For Miami Heat Big Man Greg Oden, Small Steps Will Suffice

Ethan SkolnickNBA Senior WriterOctober 1, 2013

There's no limp, less weight, a broad smile and some subdued hope.

There's your Greg Oden report as Miami Heat training camp starts Tuesday in the Bahamas.

And there might not be much to add for a while.

Monday, at the team's media day in AmericanAirlines Arena, Oden made the radio, television and print/internet reporter rounds, repeating responses to all the rote questions.

He spoke of wanting to get fit as he fits in; he's down to 278 pounds and plans to get leaner. He spoke of acclimating to Miami, with the help of Alonzo Mourning, with whom he's dined a few times, and his girlfriend, who moved down to secure a residence.

"I didn't have to worry about any of that," Oden said, grinning. "I just go to the gym and come back, I got a bed, well, cool. Then we got cable."

He spoke of feeling good but of respecting his body's timetable. Yes, it's possible he could play in the preseason, but then so was just about everything else.

He spoke of how his surgically repaired knees "just slow me down a just a little bit, but I definitely don't think about it. When I jump, I don't worry about what they feel like when I come down. Thinking like that, it's going to be hard to get comfortable."

He spoke of his comfort with the training staff.

And he spoke, with a gleam, about what he might be able to offer in a best-case scenario.

"I think if I can get to a partial of what I was before I got hurt the last time in Portland, then I think I can contribute to this team, especially defense-wise and rebounding wise," Oden said.

As a traditional center? But doesn't Erik Spoelstra speak of his team being "positionless"?

"Positionless, because he has no timetable for when I'll be on the court," Oden said, smiling.

But one thing Oden said echoed loudest, because it spoke most realistically to the challenge of trying to return after nearly four missed seasons. It explained why Spoelstra said there were "no expectations" for the former No. 1 overall pick.

How would the 7-footer measure success this season?

"Marking success for me is walking onto a court and just walking off healthy," Oden said. "No matter if it is one minute or two minutes. My dream is to be able to play basketball, and if I can go out there and do it, run up and down, and come off the court again healthy, that's goal one. Goal two is going into my second game and walking on and walking off."

If so, he'll smile wider than he ever did Monday—a day when he got some attention, though nothing compared to his Portland days, when there wasn't a LeBron James or a Dwyane Wade on his side.

"I love this, I love this," Oden said. "I think I'm almost done with my media day. Thank God. Before it was first one (to arrive), last one to go."

When will Oden be ready to offer his new team something?

He'll be the first one to know.


Ethan Skolnick covers the Miami Heat for Bleacher Report.