As I’m sure everybody is aware by now, Greg Oden, the top draft pick of this past summer’s NBA draft will be missing out on his rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers. Apparently, what was originally supposed to be an exploratory arthroscopic procedure ended up being microfracture surgery for Oden; which is of course, several times more serious.
Let me start by saying that whatever comparisons you may be making at this point are at the very least, premature. Sure, in hindsight Portland should have taken Michael Jordan (nevermind the Longhorn in me saying that Kevin Durant should have been the number 1 pick in this instance); and yes LaRue Martin was quite the flop…AND Bill Walton did seem to wait until he left the Trail Blazers to be at least somewhat free of injury drama (though he did end up taking Portland to a championship in ’77) but Greg Oden is not the second coming of any of these 3 aforementioned players; yet. It is certainly easy to immediately blame Portland’s recent woes on some sort of curse but not only is Oden just 19 years old, but he has several recent microfracture success stories to cheer him up. I’m not saying that he’ll certainly be able to recover and play as if he’d never had the surgery because that just isn’t the case and we saw that with Jamal Mashburn. But if Jason Kidd and Amare Stoudemire are any indication, Oden can potentially make a very good comeback if nothing else. I mean, we’ve even got Alan Houston and “Penny” Hardaway attempting comebacks this year, both having undergone the surgery.
After shipping Zach Randolph to New York to make room for Greg Oden, Portland is going to have a rough go at it this season there’s no doubting that. It does seem though, like the team management is willing to take every precaution necessary with their number 1 pick to ensure that when he does begin his career, he can give the Trail Blazers a good 15+ years. I’m sure Nike, with whom Oden signed a deal with undisclosed terms this summer, is being patient for much the same reason. At the end of the day though, I’m not worried about Oden’s absence having a negative impact on the league as a whole. After all; Kevin Durant is healthy and ready to roll!