Athletic trainer Casey Smith of the Dallas Mavericks is the best in the business. It was Smith’s fine work with Tyson Chandler during the 2010-11 NBA season that enabled Chandler to resurrect his career. Not only did Chandler play a monster role in the Mavericks’ championship that season, but it also got him a monster contract from the New York Knicks.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and team president Donnie Nelson pitched Casey’s work to Miami Heat center Greg Oden last offseason when Dallas was trying to sign the former No. 1 draft pick. Oden, who had not played in the league since 2010, of course, chose to sign with the Heat. Apparently, trying to ride LeBron James‘ coattails for a ring outweighed the potential of finally keeping his body in one piece for an entire season.
That was a big, big mistake on Oden’s part. Not only did he not get that ring, but his body once again broke down. Per Ira Winderman of the South Florida SunSentinel, it was not even Oden’s frail knees, but a serious back injury that sidelined Oden toward the end of this past season.
Overall, Oden played in just 23 games, averaging a measly 2.9 points per game. The points, of course, aren’t too significant. Oden, more than anything, needed to prove to himself that his body could hold up for an entire season. Had he, who is still just 26, wisely signed with the Mavericks, he probably would have been able to work with the magician-like Smith and recapture his past glory. Remember, Chandler was likewise written off back in 2011, and Oden is in a similar boat now.