Stretching the Field: Interest in Oden alluring
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - His birth certificate may read January 22, 1988, but that face and those knees reveal otherwise.
Greg Oden is a 25-year-old also-ran and all of a sudden picking up interest from teams such as New Orleans, Miami and Dallas.
Do those teams need an AARP spokesperson? How about someone to serve dinner at 4:00 p.m. with a quick episode of 'Murder She Wrote' and off to bed?
Former Presidential candidate John McCain was ripped for how weathered he appeared during the campaign on primetime television. Oden is definitely no war hero and imagine the former No. 1 draft pick running up and down the court again. It could get ugly.
Oden barely did that with the Portland Trail Blazers and the franchise was snakebitten by knee issues from both Oden and Brandon Roy. Roy, Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge were supposed to lead Portland to greener pastures. Roy is now retired, Aldridge is hoping Damian Lillard is the answer and Oden has that beleaguered history of chronic knee ailments, which has limited him to 82 games (60 starts) in his career.
There's no need to blame Portland for taking Oden with the top pick back in 2007. He dominated the college ranks and impressed Blazers brass so much they opted to pass on Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the NBA right now, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol and Al Horford. Remember when Portland selected Sam Bowie in the 1984 draft over Michael Jordan? Yeah, that had to sting, too.
Oden could have been one of the best big men today until nature ran its course and threw a wrench in that hypothesis. Now, he might be a formidable piece off the bench for a team that already has its lineup intact.
Oden hasn't played since the 2009-10 campaign and yet teams are currently kicking the tires on the 7-foot center. Last season, he was not with any NBA team. If the Cleveland Cavaliers want to take a chance on Andrew Bynum, another player with a history of balky knees, then it's understandable why Oden is getting another shot. Oden, of course, will not command the type of money Bynum received from the Cavs.
A billboard for microfracture knee surgery, Oden never played his rookie season of 2007-08 and is still young in terms of a professional basketball player. Is there any reason to think he won't be able to make a comeback? Sure, history is on that side. Will Oden display the same work ethic and desire he has in the past? That's a tough question and the team that offers him the best deal will find out soon enough.
While it's a mystery as to why teams still want to gamble on a guy who may be good on the short-term, Oden dazzled his way to the No. 1 overall pick with his unique size and ability. He can shoot, is a monster inside on both ends of the court and has a high basketball IQ.
If Oden decides to run with Miami or Dallas, he will surely get tired of answering questions about his health due to the media attention. Perhaps a smaller market will suit Oden best. But let's be honest, what else could you ask during camp and preseason before focusing on the obvious? Did you find a place to live? Have you enjoyed the food? How is the family? Are you meshing with your new teammates? Can you last an 82-game schedule because you haven't in the past due to those knees?
Wherever Oden finds the pot of gold, and that's exactly what his next destination will be, he will have a lot to prove. Not O.J. Simpson-type authentication, but enough to show that his new employer didn't come from lobotomy island. And the longer it takes Oden to decide, the more suitors will step up to the plate searching for his services at a bargain price.
So as the mammoth center plots a return to the NBA, here's a toast to modern science and Oden's confidence in making a successful comeback, because the odds are stacked against him.
07/16 12:23:13 ET