Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden fractured his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night at the Rose Garden.
Oden, 21, the first overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers, underwent surgery on his left patella the following day and he will be shelved for the remainder of the 2009-2010 campaign.
“I’m obviously disappointed having worked so hard to get where I was. This is a setback but I’ll be back. It’s in God’s hands now,” said Oden, who was averaging 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as a starter.
“I want to thank the fans, my teammates and everyone in the Blazers family for all of their good thoughts.”
Oden, an affable seven-foot giant who is likable and easy to support as a fan, apologized to his teammates once he received his diagnosis.
“He didn’t do anything,” said forward Lamarcus Aldridge. “People don’t understand that injuries are part of the game. We all are at risk every time we play so I think injuries are going to happen. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to him.”
Many hoops analysts described Oden as a “once-in-a-decade player” after he led Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three consecutive Indiana Class 4A basketball championships before he graduated in 2006.
After Oden received his high school degree, he decided to attend Ohio State University.
Despite battling a serious wrist injury, Oden managed to lead the Buckeyes as a freshman to the 2007 NCAA championship game where they ultimately lost to the University of Florida 84-75.
Oden stayed in Columbus for only that one season before he declared himself eligible for the draft.
The Blazers predicted that Oden would help their organization win multiple Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy’s and be a dominant force in the paint for more than a decade in “Rose City.”
Sadly, Oden’s ailing right knee required microfracture surgery and he was forced to miss his entire rookie season in 2007-2008.
Oden recovered from his operation and he finally made his debut as a professional on Opening Night 2008.
Considering Oden’s wretched medical history, the big man managed to stay relatively healthy from that point last year until this past weekend.
However, Oden’s newest ailment was truly nothing less than inevitable.
Oden has a vibrant personality and his overall skills could have made him a fan favorite and a perennial NBA All-Star for years to come.
Granted, Oden is very young and he could potentially rebound from his litany of wounds and still fulfill his vast promise.
Unfortunately, Oden will likely be plagued by injuries for the remainder of his career and he will unfairly be labeled a draft bust.
“That’s the kind of thing you certainly hope doesn’t happen,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said of Oden’s newest malady. “Greg was just really starting to come into his own. Hopefully they’ll be able to repair the kneecap and he’ll be in good shape.”
Ideally, Oden will again recuperate and eventually become one of basketball’s foremost centers.
Cruelly, sports don’t always have ideal endings and Oden’s story will not be an exception.
Oden’s body will never “be in good shape” and, therefore, he won’t have an opportunity to genuinely “come into his own” as an NBA player.
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