He’s had surgery after surgery. He was branded a bust. He even became a borderline alcoholic. How could you not be happy for a man that has been through so much pain and adversity at the ripe old age of 25?
It’s almost impossible not to. That’s why you saw Greg Oden’s smile stretch from one side of his face to the other. It’s also why his Miami Heat teammates erupted in celebration when Chris Bosh whipped the ball down to him for his first score in almost four years.
“It was a very special moment,” LeBron James said to ESPN. “I have no idea what my feeling would be like, being away from the game for three years. It was like a proud moment, man. I was so excited for him when he got on the court and he checked in — and his first basket he gets a dunk. Can you write it any better?”
The only way to craft it any better would be to have tears streaming down Oden’s eyes as he hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, after battling it out with Roy Hibbert and whatever big man the Western Conference had to offer. But for now, we need to appreciate what Oden’s hard work has afforded him, because just stepping on the court following four knee surgeries and a semi-retirement was an accomplishment.
Although he probably won’t get any credit for it, it was a brilliant move for Erik Spoelstra to slip Oden into the game — unbeknownst to the player or the media — without any pregame fanfare. It was a move that took away the pressure of nagging questions and the anticipation of waiting to check in for what must have felt like a lifetime to happen.
“In December it would be four years, so four minutes, that’s enough for me,” Oden said. “As long as I got out there and I walked off and I’m healthy, that’s all that matters.”
So mark it down in your calendars: Game 7 of a meaningless preseason game may have been the biggest confidence boost for the former No. 1 pick. And all of his Miami family was there to enjoy it.
Please comment using the section below, or reach out to us using the hash #RantNBA.