Prior to Wednesday, Jan. 15, Greg Oden had not scored a point in the NBA since December 2009 against the Miami Heat. Now, he wears a Heat jersey, and in his first minutes on the court in over four years, he flashed some relatively incredible hops, considering his litany of knee issues.
After Marcin Gortat hounded Dwyane Wade on a layup, the ball fortuitously found Oden under the hoop. The youngest old man in the NBA rose up and stuffed it home to prove that his career is not toast just yet.
He had been in the game for just 17 seconds, so perhaps his luck is changing.
Oden added another slam four minutes later, this one following his own offensive rebound and coming off a pocket pass from LeBron James. He finished the first half with six points thanks to two made free throws and two rebounds in five minutes.
Another dunk for Oden. I can't even comprehend this. Dude hasn't played in four years.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) January 16, 2014
He had to be giddy to be back after so long.
Oden: "I feel good, and we will see how it feels tomorrow."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 16, 2014
Oden was a freshman standout at Ohio State before declaring for the 2007 draft, where he was selected first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. As part of their continuing effort to replace Bill Walton, Oden was the be the seven-foot godsend who could prowl the paint, clean the glass and dominate the low post.
However, Oden never appeared in the 2007-08 season after having microfracture surgery on his right knee. He suffered some minor injuries during the 2008-09 season but still played in 61 games. Oden looked strong through 21 tilts the next season, averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 boards and 2.3 blocks per game.
Then disaster struck in December 2009 as Oden injured his knee again and had to be stretchered off the court, ending that season and the next after a setback in rehab. The 2011-12 campaign season was robbed by yet another microfracture procedure. Oden's February 2012 knee surgery prompted the Trail Blazers to waive him in March.
Now, Oden is back. And he is dunking. And it is spectacular.