Just read Jason Quicks article about Oden and the pressures of being a 20 year old rookie with all the expectations surrounding him. The following excerpt really struck me.
'He has lost a lot of personality," Roy said. "I look at it that that's the NBA. You come in with a high, then it humbles you, then the person that comes out of being humble is the person you are going to be for the rest of your career." -Brandon Roy as Quoted within Jason Quicks Article.
I thought it was one of the more interesting articles I've read in a long time, revealing of the reality of Greg Oden the person and player as well as revealing of Jason Quick himself, recognizing and apologizing when he believes he has fallen into the lockstep scrutiny of the often over zealous media machine.
Do we all need to step back? I remember the thrill and excitement of winning the #1 pick, the almost carnival atmosphere surounding the aproaching draft with the Oden vs. Durant debate. I remember the near hysteria surrounding his selection and the almost worshipful greeting at Pioneer Courthouse Square. We were a franchise getting healthy, and we were a fanbase hungry to be healthy. Then we all know the next happening, the unfortunate Knee surgery. We all said the right things. KP, Oden, most of the fans, the rest of the team. We had a good season, with Brandon in the All-Star game and a league awakening 13 game winning streak . But let's be honest, some place in our hearts as fans we still were waiting. We were waiting for this season, as much as we didn't want to admit it.
So now the waits over. It's here. Has the wait taught us patience? Or has it just made us and the league that much more hungry? Oden came into the league with attachments like "Next Great Dominant Center". Whispers of all the greats names were put alongside Oden. Here was a kid in Oden that shared with fans his own created, nearly unedited tours of his own apartment, complete with aknowledgements of a love for Cookie Crisp cereal. Here was a teenager, at the time, giving thumbs up reviews for the movie "Transformers". It was unique, it was refreshing and it was Oden. How quickly the N.B.A. and the media and maybe even ourselves as fans seem to be grinding that freshness away.
A few preseason games, with decent to good performance considering the long road Oden has been on and the new whispers begin. Sprain an ankle and even more whispers. We know what those whispers are, "How good is Oden?, Is Oden injury prone?, Can he stay healthy?". Suddenly the easy going kid we drafted is gone. Suddenly he isn't smiling, joking and being his confident self.
I'm guilty myself. Did I want to tune into a preseason game and see flashes of a Hakeem, Ewing, Russel in Oden? Sure I did. I'm as hungry for that as anyone. But do we need to try and step back. Given Odens appearance, his mature look and physical size, it's so easy to forget that a year ago this kid was a teenager. Can we after waiting a year for Oden, step back and again be patient and let Oden develop?
When all is said and done, part of what made me believe Oden could be a great center was his personality. He had a built in charisma, built in confidence. I'm saddened to read quotes to the extent that is being taken from him. I guess this whole fanpost is mostly just a call for all of us as Blazer fans to continue patience. I think Oden will be great player. But I also hope that when he becomes that dominant center, it will be with the smile attached that he brought into the league. Does it take too much for the media or ourselves to simply understand that we are dealing still with a very, very young man who is in an almost impossibly unique situation? We drafted the rumored next dominating big man, a kid arrived in Portland. His potential greatness might be fueled by his own personal desire and sensitivity to his own and others expectations but if we stamp out the kid, and the joy for the game, I think we will have less of a new Oden emerge. So Yes, I say Bring Back The Kid! .......it's going to be alright!