Greg Oden and the Hurt Locker

Busta BucketCorrespondent IDecember 21, 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

Hello. It is very nice to see you again. Where have I been? How convenient of me to ask. I have just recently crawled out from underneath the rock that I made into my home after Greg Oden went down. Things were rough there for a while but it’s all good now; birds are chirping, sun is shining, babies smiling, etc. It took me a while to get back here.

I didn’t watch the game where Oden collapsed, but I heard about it almost as quickly as if I had been courtside. Tweets, e-mails, and text messages came at me from all directions. My will to pick through NBA blogs was instantly vaporized. I figured that putting my own thoughts down would lead to me opening up my window just so I could throw myself out of it. (Relax, I live on the first floor.) I still haven’t seen a replay of the injury. I doubt I ever will.

It wasn’t just the incident itself that hurt so much. Oden had been one of the very few bright spots of the season up to that point. We were finally starting to see him move beyond occasional flashes of potential. He was influencing games. After all the frustration and waiting, he was actually putting it all together.

That the rest of the team was struggling to figure things out made Oden’s progress all the more salient. When that one bit of light was snuffed out all we had was darkness.

I desperately want the team to have to face their issues. Andre Miller has taken a lot of blame, and yeah, the fellas do need to figure out how to play with a real point guard. But the bigger problem to me is that Roy and LaMarcus have a hard time playing with a productive Greg.

Roy averaged 20.38 points per game with Oden and 26.87 without. Aldridge managed just 14.8 with Oden and is at 19.75 since Greg got hauled off in a stretcher. (Totally unrelated, but have you noticed that Aldridge is averaging 0.4 blocks per game this season? Seriously! Isn’t he tall and long and really athletic? How is Kevin Love, who I’m told is none of those things, getting more blocks per game than Aldridge? Good thing the Blazers management held out so long and signed LaMarcus at a great price, amiright? Huh? How much? What?!)

It sucked that they were struggling. But at the same time, they have to figure out how to make every piece work together eventually. I would much rather it happen sooner than later. Maybe next season we will get to see this entire roster work together. Maybe.

I know everyone is injured and we should happily root for our overachieving youngsters. We should love watching them eek out wins with Roy pounding the rock and LaMarcus shooting jumpers. But really, that is so 2008-09. We know that will get a fair amount of victories. We are also fairly sure that it is not a championship formula.

I have a hard time ignoring problems just because they have been nudged down the time-line a little. If anything, that makes it worse. The problems just hang there, some dark mass of energy in the background, waiting for the right time. We came so close to actually having to sort things out. We nearly got to see if this roster will work as is, or if hard decisions should be made.

The team may have been losing, but in the grand scheme of things it still felt like the franchise was moving forward. Now? Not so much. That is why Oden going down really, really sucked.

At least I can bring myself to watch the games again. I’m prowling blogs and actually following the team I write about. I didn’t get back to this point by adopting some new positive outlook. I didn’t spin the injury into some “all part of the journey ” hooey of acceptance. At some point, I just realized how pathetic it is to get depressed over a sports team. Even for a person that makes regular Deep Space Nine references, that seems a little sad. So yeah, I’m back. Thanks for tolerating my therapy.


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