Give the Guy a Break: Why We Should Feel Sorry for Portland's Greg Oden

Sean FearonCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on November 20, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When I logged on to NBA.com to receive my daily dose of all things basketball, I was greeted with a sorry sight. 

A young man writhing in agony, clutching his leg on the hardwood, again.

I shook my head.

Greg Oden doesn't deserve this, no one in his situation does.

You have to wonder what will hurt him more. The pain of recovering from another major surgery at the tender age of 21. Or the fact that his first real season as an NBA player was cut short after 20 games. That has to sting.

Oden was never going to be an All-Star this year, or even log the eye-popping stats it was said he could when he came into this league as a teenager.

But now that he is out for the season again, he will be furthermore branded as the "useless draft bust" or the reincarnation of the Blazers' last dreadful draft pick, Sam Bowie.

All those things may be true, and I, like all of you, was looking forward to watching the man-child out of Ohio state that was labeled by some as the next Shaquille O'Neal.

But put yourself in his enormous shoes. Would you like to be ridiculed by literally thousands of big-name journalists and be subjected to the Simon Cowell-esque taunts of sports fans.

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He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, again, and it is a safe assumption that Oden will not be the skeleton of the mediocre center he was this season in the years to come.

Because the gut-wrenchingly disappointing and disturbing clear truth is, prominent and recurring leg injuries such as these, for 285-pound seven-footers, do not just disappear. (See Ming, Yao.)  

I feel for the man. I really do. Already, Bleacher Report has featured many articles with the central theme being something like "Oden injured again! Did I hear someone say useless draft bust?"

Sure, he was always in foul trouble, and I mean always. And yes, he was limited and incredibly raw offensively. But because you dislike him as a player does not mean that you shouldn't look at this career-changing moment from a non-basketball perspective.

A young man, desperately working and striving to make a name for himself as a legitimate athlete in this league, has his hopes wrenched of all reality by the cruel hand of misfortune.

And this is true for all NBA players whose potentially Hall of Fame worthy careers were ruined by the vicious injury bug. (See Sampson, Ralph.)

So please, don't look down on Greg Oden, be sensitive and take sympathy.

He has earned that, at least.


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