"Really? I mean, really? REALLY?!?!?!?!"
That's what every Portland Trail Blazer fan was thinking as they saw the stomach-turning, face-draining words move across the ESPN ticker:
"Greg Oden out for the 2010-11 season."
This can't really be happening, can it?
Are we that unlucky?
Is Greg that unlucky?
For now, at least, the answer appears to be yes—the Blazers are just that unlucky.
(Apparently God isn't a huge Blazer fan.)
First Bowie over Jordan.
Now Durant over Oden.
That's just how it's going to be.
I've been as big of an "Oden is not a bust" guy as anybody, but that was then and this is now.
Sorry everyone, Greg Oden is a bust.
He will miss his second entire season after missing his entire "rookie" season and he missed over 60 games last season.
For awhile I held out hope that Oden's injuries were just coincidences and not related—
That was fun.
At this point, it's pretty clear that Oden will never be healthy. Guys just don't have season-ending surgery three out of their first four years and then "make it."
It's never happened and it's not going to happen.
In hindsight, Portland probably should have seen this—well, maybe not quite this—coming.
Oden fractured his hip in middle school, had wrist surgery before playing in the first game of his highly anticipated college career and one of his legs is longer than the other, resulting in a slight limp.
(By the way, who fractures their hip in middle school?)
Do you really want your 19-year-old, franchise center to be walking with a limp and a formerly broken hip?
Still, it's hard to blame Portland for making the move that they did.
Twenty of the GMs in the NBA would have done the same thing.
This was a guy who—for some reason—was the most hyped high school player since LeBron James, garnering comparisons to Bill Russell and Tim Duncan before he even took his SATs.
Portland's oversensitive fans probably would have griped over the sure-thing center being passed up for the skinny, one-dimensional Durant. Oden was the pick Portland was going to make, it was set in stone despite the fact Durant blew Oden out of water at the Portland workout.
Greg Oden's college stats: 15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.3 bpg, 62 percent shooting.
Durant: 25.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 1.9 spg, 47 percent shooting.
Durant was one of the most dominant players in college basketball over the past quarter century.
He won all of the Player of the Year awards.
He was the best player in the NCAA.
Yes, Oden was good.
Yes, Oden was dominant at times.
Yes, Oden had moments that looked Russell-esque.
And yes, Oden's Ohio State Buckeyes went 35-4, losing in the National title game to a stacked and experienced Florida team while Durant's Longhorns went went 25-10 and couldn't make it past the second round.
Still, common sense says to take the athletic, super-long, super-scoring, 6'10" small forward over the awkward-moving 7 footer, doesn't it?
Yet, I'm not blaming Kevin Pritchard for that one.
R.C. Buford or Sam Presti might have done the exact same thing.
However, now it looks as if Oden over Durant is Bowie over Jordan part II.
Durant is right where he left off last season by leading the NBA in scoring through the few weeks of the year.
He has the potential to win 10+ scoring titles without even trying.
The Brandon Roy led Blazers also won 50 games, mostly without Oden, and while being decimated by additional injuries, including some to Roy.
As an optimistic Blazer fan, I assumed that the evil injury bug that had bitten Portland last year would pass us by for the 10-11 season.
I assumed Oden would come back at nearly 100 percent, that Roy would be better, and that Przybilla would be back from his own knee problems.
Well—guess what?—I forgot that assuming is a very stupid thing to do.
First Jeff Pendergraph—the Blazer's best backup big man—was lost for the season with, you guessed it, a knee injury.
Then Roy's knee acted up and it turns out that he lacks his meniscus in either knee.
And now the Oden news hits to put the cherry on top of the Blazer's miserable, injury sundae.
Now we're just hoping that Lamarcus Aldridge doesn't slip on a banana peel and tear an ACL or that Nic Batum doesn't re-injure his formerly gimpy shoulder while bowling.
Oden's injury and Durant's thriving success has diminished the fervor of the normally passionate Blazer fans.
There was still hope that this team could make it through the season in one piece and that Oden could help lead the team farther than it's ever gone.
Oh, the joy.
I sincerely hope Greg recovers and has a successful NBA career, whether it be with Portland or any other team (besides the Lakers), but I just don't see it happening.
Is it insane to think that he might never play in another NBA game? It seems like a real possibility to me.
If he never does play again it will be a complete and utter shame.
For the Blazers.
And for fans of basketball.
I look forward to watching Kevin Durant ascend to the throne Kobe Bryant currently holds as the best player in the league, I just wish I was watching him do that in a Portland Trail Blazers jersey.
Man, do I wish that.
*Just to be clear, I have no resentment towards Greg whatsoever. I still like him as a player and a person. It really is sad that he might never get a chance to prove himself. A Shakespeare-level tragedy.
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