Greg Oden was tabbed as potentially the next Patrick Ewing or Bill Russell in high school: a shot blocking, rebound-devouring 7-footer in the era of the dwindling center. He led Lawrence North to back-to-back-to-back Indiana state basketball titles. He took Ohio State to the NCAA Title game. Then, his career of NBA sadness began.
June 2006: Oden has surgery on his wrist right around high school graduation following an injury he suffered “defending himself in a fight with his hotheaded younger brother.” Little did anyone know that it would be the start of a surgery-filled career.
Dec 2006: After missing the Buckeyes first two games due to the surgery, he begins his college career against Valpo: 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
April 2007: Oden helps lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four despite an up-and-down tournament when he was frequently in foul trouble. Oden finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in a National Championship loss to Florida (against Al Horford and Joakim Noah). I’ll always remember this near-dunk on Jeff Green in the semifinals. His final freshman year stats: 15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.3 blocks per game. Later that month, he announces he’s leaving early for the NBA.
June 2007: Portland selects Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick. Reportedly, there was some debate in Portland whether they should draft Oden or a thin scoring star from Texas, Kevin Durant.
August 2007. This photo emerges. Well, it’d been out there for awhile, but that’s when we wrote about it. What a classic photo.
September 2007: Greg Oden has the dreaded microfracture surgery on his right knee. This came out of nowhere. He would miss the entire season.
October 2008: Showing up close to 40 pounds over his playing weight of 250 pounds, Oden played 13 minutes in his NBA debut, didn’t score, and left the game with a foot injury. He missed two weeks.
January 2009: Oden had his best game of the season (career?) with 24 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Milwaukee. For the season, he played 61 games, starting 39, averaging 8.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg.
November 2009: Following a strong month of November (12.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg), Oden suffers a fractured kneecap four minutes into the 21st game of the season. His season was over.
September 2010: Oden says he has given up clubbing and drinking.
November 2010: Portland announces Oden is going to have dreaded microfracture on his left knee. So microfracture on both knees before the age of 23. After four seasons in the NBA (counting this one) he’ll have played just 82 games. If you’re wondering what Kevin Durant had done by this time … he’d taken the Thunder to the playoffs twice.
December 2011: As the team anticipated Oden’s hopeful return, there’s a setback. ” … it was determined that Oden has an issue with a non-weight bearing ligament. Oden has no symptoms and doesn’t feel restricted, but the doctors are concerned with the fragility of the ligament.” He sits out the season. Again.
January 2011: He’s photographed sitting on the Portland bench. This is immensely sad.
February 2012: Oden has a third microfracture surgery. This one is on his left knee.
March 2012: The Portland Trailblazers waive Greg Oden. He played just 82 games in five seasons. The biggest question is whether or not Portland saw any knee issues at all during their physical exams of him leading up to the 2007 draft. Surely a 30-for-30 documentary will clear it up.
May 2012: Greg Oden has knee surgery. He hasn’t played a basketball game sine November 2009.
August 2013: The Miami Heat sign 25-year old Greg Oden to a 2-year deal. In his first season, he played a total of 212 minutes and scored 67 points. He played just 18 minutes in the playoffs, and they came in three blowouts that were all decided by 15 or more points.
August 2014: Oden is arrested for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend. If the next item on this time is “Miami Heat cut Greg Oden” … well, you have to wonder if his basketball career is over at 26.