Greg Oden: Portland Trailblazers Reliving Sam Bowie All Over Again

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer INovember 18, 2010

HOUSTON - APRIL 24:  Center Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers during play against the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 24, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

He was one of the more hyped players coming out of college and the Portland Trailblazers wanted him. I'm referring to, of course, Greg Oden.

The Trailblazers drafted the former Ohio State standout with the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft.

Four years after the fact, Oden will now officially miss his third season in four years as he will undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee on Friday.

At this point, I don't know whether to feel sorry for him or for the Trailblazers, but I don't know if there's another team that's had worse luck with the first overall pick. 

Oden has been nothing but a bust since they drafted him with the first overall pick in 2007.

It leads me to ponder two different questions. Do the Trailblazers have horrible luck in the draft, or if they've really made two of the worst first-round decisions in NBA history?

Let's take you back to the 1984 NBA Draft.

The Trailblazers had the second overall pick in the draft and instead of selecting a young guard out of the University of North Carolina by the name of Michael Jordan, Portland instead went with Sam Bowie out of Kentucky.

The pick before them, the first overall, came from the Houston Rockets. Anyone remember who they went with? If you said, Hakeem Olajuwon. The third pick, after Bowie had been drafted by Portland, was from the Chicago Bulls who used it on Jordan.

Five years after Bowie was drafted, he, along with a draft pick, was traded by the Trailblazers to the New Jersey Nets for Buck Williams. In 2005, Sports Illustrated named Bowie as the biggest draft bust in NBA history.

You know Bowie's name has already come up in connection to Greg Oden and maybe unfairly so. Bowie was a standout, not to mention a great player, at Kentucky.

While some might tell you that there's no way they should have passed on Bowie, I'll defend them to a point to say that there was no way to know what Michael Jordan would become.

The guy in front of Bowie, Olajuwon, became a champion with the Rockets, the guy behind him, Jordan, became a six-time champion.

Is it a lack of luck for the Trailblazers or is it a lack of research on the players they're looking at?

That's a question that could be asked by a lot of teams who have struck out on their draft picks over the years. Remember the Detroit Pistons selecting Darko Milicic with the second overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft?

He could be argued, right along with Bowie and Oden, as one of the biggest draft bust in history. The guy that went number one that year? LeBron James. But how about the guys that went after Milicic, just to add insult to injury: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.


With Oden, the Trailblazers can again look back at the draft and wonder what might have been. The guy that was drafted second overall that year, Kevin Durant, has become a star with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While we can sit here and bash the Trailblazers for their two biggest busts in their history, they do still have young talent that has led them to be one of the more fun teams to watch in the NBA, especially with guys like Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, so they're not completely lost without Oden.

But, no matter how good Portland becomes in the next year or two, they will still come up in NBA draft conversations year in and year out. And no matter how unfortunate it is, Sam Bowie's name will continue to come up with every bad draft pick.