It may not seem fair, but for years to come, Greg Oden will be remembered as the next Sam Bowie, and the Portland Trail Blazers will be known as the team that opted to choose him over Kevin Durant, who will retire as one of the best scorers to have ever played the game.
It seems like history has repeated itself, but Portland's general manager at the time, Kevin Pritchard, had a perfectly valid reason to select Oden in the 2007 NBA draft. He already had Brandon Roy; the 2006-07 Rookie of the Year.
In Roy, Pritchard had a young leader and scorer that was going to be the face of a team going through a rebirth. In a time where having that one superstar was so vital in winning a championship, Portland had struck gold in the 2006 draft.
Earlier in the decade, the Rasheed Wallace-led Trail Blazers were referred to as the "Jail Blazers." They had gone through a couple of losing seasons after making it to the postseason the previous 21 years, and there were several personality issues on the team.
All hope seemed to be lost until the University of Washington standout was selected sixth overall by the Minnesota Timerwolves and then subsequently traded to Portland for their selection, Randy Foye.
In a draft that saw Adam Morrsion, Tyrus Thomas and Shelden Williams go in the top five, expectations were never too high. Instead, Portland had its hopes in the second overall selection of the same draft, forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
After missing a good chunk of the first half of his rookie campaign, Roy showed that he was the future of the Trail Blazers. He averaged 16.8 points per game and demonstrated the all-around play that any team could build around.
The seven-footer from Ohio State was brought on the following season to just be his sidekick, and never the real show on offense.
Could Durant and Roy have co-existed? There might have been a chance, but it certainly wasn't the ideal thing to do with Oden available. The injuries to both were not predictable. Roy had some problems with his knees in high school, but no one knew it could have been this bad.
In Roy's third and fourth years, the team was a championship contender. It had finally returned to the playoffs, Oden was as healthy as he would ever be in his career and, best of all, Roy was playing at an MVP type level, averaging over 20 points along with five rebounds and five assists per game in that span.
In the 2009 playoffs against the Houston Rockets, Roy would go on to dominate in the series, including a 42-point game, but the Trail Blazers would go on to lose the series. He was determined to get back in the playoffs the following season as the team went 50-32, but injuries would slow him down as the season progressed.
The 2009-10 campaign is probably what Roy will be remembered most for. The game-winning shot against the Rockets, the 52-point game against the Phoenix Suns to go along with several other great games are all incredible moments, but more importantly, he picked up a team that was at its lowest and brought them back to relevance.
By the start of last season, it became clear that Roy was never going to be able to play at an All-Star type level again. His knees were getting worse, and he wasn't the most effective player off the bench.
Roy's role in a 23-point comeback against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the 2011 playoffs suggested he could still perform at a high level, but doctors put an end to that optimism earlier this month.
At 27, Roy's five-year career is over. It's a terrible situation, but should never be forgotten. Portland would be wise to hang his jersey up in Rose Garden Arena as a way to recognize the man who portrayed not only great play on the court, but great character off of it as well.
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