South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman had the news:
The Heat emphatically announced Oden's first points shortly after tipoff:
Greg Oden in for Heat, with 5:15 to play in first quarter.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 24, 2013
#HEATgame: Greg Oden with a dunk and rebound in his first minutes on the floor for Miami!— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 24, 2013
Miami Herald reporter Joseph Goodman provided LeBron's take:
LeBron on Oden: “I might have to toast this for him. I ain’t no drinker but I might have to take a shot for him.”— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) October 24, 2013
LeBron added this as well:
Man I'm so happy for GO tonight! Couldn't imagine being away from the game for 3 years. Feel like a proud big brother! Determination wins— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 24, 2013
Oden had this to say about his performance after the game:
It’s been nearly four years since the former No. 1 overall pick has seen game action. Oden hasn’t played a single minute since Dec. 5, 2009, when he went down with one of the multiple knee injuries that have plagued the 7-footer throughout his career.
The Portland Trail Blazers finally released him in March 2012, after the big man underwent his third microfracture knee surgery since being drafted in June 2007. He played just 82 games during his five seasons with the organization.
Miami took a chance on Oden this past summer, offering him a one-year deal that affords the beleaguered talent a chance to prove he can stay on the court and potentially earn a more lucrative contract.
At age 25, he still has all the potential in the world. He was picked ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 draft for his ability to change a game with his imposing size and athleticism, which is something he could potentially do down the line for the Heat.
Oden holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just over 22 minutes per game. He’s an efficient finisher inside and has the physical attributes to guard most big men in one-on-one situations.
Right now, he just needs to concentrate on staying healthy and not overextending himself. The big man had a slight setback during training camp with soreness in his left knee, but was able to overcome that to make his Heat debut Wednesday.
How will Oden fare in his debut?
It’s unknown how many minutes head coach Erik Spoelstra plans on playing Oden, but it’s hard to imagine him logging more than a handful in games this season.
That’s fine, of course. Oden is taking things as they come at this stage of his career, and he knows that steady progress is better than none at all.