The Portland Trailblazers have already selected and been pushing their 2008 advertising slogan. "2008:Worth the Wait". In the Game Guides the eager Rose Garden staff thrust into your hands as you enter before each game there are rotating fans writing about why they are excited about 2008...even though when those articles started the Blazers were actually in 8th position in the Western Conference for this year. That is how excited the franchise is about the expected arrival of a healthy Greg Oden to anchor the middle in 2008 and for years to come.
It is assumed that behind Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw and Brandon Roy the Blazers will have a lengthy run of making the playoffs, going deep in the playoffs, and hopefully winning a couple of titles, maybe more if the proper pieces can be put in place around them.
Meanwhile, the team has done everything they can to insure that Oden's recovery from microfracture surgery goes strictly according to Hoyle. They have said in no uncertain terms that under no circumstances whatsoever will he play this year regardless of medical clearance. They want a full recovery taking all the time necessary. When he got out of control in the weight room they stepped in and encouraged him to take a more healthy approach. They are taking the recovery process slow, steady, and careful. After all, the plan is to go deep in the playoffs in 2008 with a healthy Oden. The entire organization has taken "2008:Worth the Wait" not just as an advertising slogan but as a philosophy.
Well, the entire franchise EXCEPT Greg Oden thinks it is worth the wait. He went down to a 24 Hour Fitness and decided to play some pick-up basketball.
On the one hand I absolutely LOVE that. Here is a guy who loves to play basketball. I will never have a problem saying that in his case it is not about the money. He likes to play so much that as soon as he can he is in the rat-ball league throwing down with hot-shots who think any think they take is a good one and any shot a team-mate takes is a bad one, where "no blood, no foul" is a way of life and the type of contact that gets Shaquille O Neal angry enough to throw technical-drawing elbows are not considered fouls. That shows a passion for the game that bodes well for the future of the Blazers.
On the dark side it is dangerous. There is a reason most guys are in the 24 Hour Fitness. They are not as talented or aware as the gifted athletes in the NCAA, European Leagues, D-League or NBA. Not that there are not some there who rise above the average but as a whole it is a less skilled, more violent game ripe with opportunities for injuries. Those can even come not from maliciousness but pure incompetence. It might be someone hustling back against a fast break and tripping someone up or undercutting them in a battle for a rebound. The point is these games are unstructured and not a good place for someone on a tender, recovering, restructured knee.
So while major props go to Oden for wanting to get back on the court and having the drive to do so but hey...big guy...channel it, dude. Put that effort into the structured, supervised methods recommended by the doctors and physicians. We want to see you running the floor, not rolling a wheelchair. We, the Blazer fans, wish you the best but let's wait this one out in safety, eh?