I never wanted to write this fanpost. I never wanted to have to say the things I'm about to say. But Blazer fans have a bitter pill to swallow, and like any medicine the quicker we swallow it, the better. This is about Greg Oden.
When Greg underwent his microfracture surgery many of the ghosts and shadows of troubled Blazer big men of the past were revived. But I personally was able to banish these ghosts in the light of Gregs youth and with the hope of modern surgical procedure and optimism as a Blazer fan. But that was yesterday...
Today what makes this so much more difficult is how well Oden was doing. Oden was emerging. His confidence, his personality, his physical skills and gifts seemed to grow on almost a nightly basis. But that all was lost in a single moment with Greg Oden crumpled on The Rose Garden floor.
As a Blazer fan, I just want to offer unconditional support. I just want like Kevin Pritchard to say it's a setback but Oden will be back. And I think it's appropriate and fine to hold that hope...the hope that Greg Oden can return and play again at the level he was showing us he was capable
But also as a Blazer fan, with a some age and a memory, I'm afraid we have some bitter pills to swallow. Because I can remember Sam Bowie, and seeing Oden being carried off the court on a stretcher brought back so many memories. Newer Blazer fans might not want to hear it, but there are so many similarities. Bowie like Oden, was a controversial high pick in a talented draft. Not the #1,#1 but taken #2 and surrounded by other talent and unfortunately legend in Michael Jordan. Bowie like Oden also emerged, and many people have forgotten but before Bowie was ultimately betrayed by his own physical frailities Bowie was a very, very good player. But I remember the reality of what seemed a never ending cycle of injury and rehab.
In anycase, the bitter pill I think we need to swallow is coming to the realization that Greg Oden simply should not be factored into any serious ideas about this teams evolution into an upper echelon championship contender. That sounds mean, that sounds cold and like I said before the jump, I never wanted to write it. But I believe especially in the case of big men, that sometimes you just have an individual who's body simply cannot withstand the rigors of N.B.A. basketball. Who knows? I'm not a medical professional. But I've seen a lot of basketball players come and go, and I have seen some that for whatever reason seem to have brittle bones, weak tendons, or simply the genetic predisposition to injury when stressed at an N.B.A. level of physical exertion. I'm now very, very afraid Greg Oden falls into that category.
So another bitter pill is this team cannot wait for Greg Oden. It has to move on. Not only this season, but the next and the next. Trust me, when I say I hope I am wrong. I'd like nothing more than to be wrong. I'd like Greg Oden to once again return and play an Iron Man like career and become everything we hoped and dreamed he would be when we drafted him. But I'm afraid it isn't going to happen. Can he, will he return from this injury? Probably yes. With another lost season and time he will return. But once returned how long before the next injury?
The bitter pill is Greg Oden is injury prone. Which means to me that The Blazers can't think of Greg Oden as the 3rd prong of a 3 prong attack. Our nuculeus is not going to be Brandon, LMA and Oden because Oden will never be healthy long enough for it to be viable. We support Gregs rehab, we await his return again and if he can prove me wrong F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C....honestly. But the franchise needs to change gears. With Brandon, LMA and Oden you could look at everything and everyone else as mostly the "icing" to KP' cake. With Oden out of the picture, or what Oden means to the franchise severely adjusted, then KP and management need to go back and be more agressive. I don't think Brandon and LMA alone are enough to be the core of a championship level team. There are no easy answers here but the worst thing we could do at this point is count on Greg Oden.
Oh, please, please believe me when I say it pains me to type those words. But I have lived through similar before. There was a point when I realized that as much as I wanted it, as much as Bowie wanted it, as much as The Blazers wanted it, Bowie was never going to be able to consistently compete on a Jabbar, Hakeem and Ewing level. His legs just would not let him. I am so afraid that is the case with Oden. He's IS a great talent, he showed it this season. But unfortunately his body also showed it's weakness.
I would keep this opinion to myself, but having lived through the Bowie era, I also think that the quickest road to franchise recovery is to embrace the reality as realistically as possible. We still have fantastic talent in Brandon and LMA, and good depth and talent. But if Championships were our goal? Even at their very, very best are Brandon and LMA enough? What seemed as sure as an emphatic rim rocking dunk is now a crumpled question mark on the Rose Garden floor. That's a bitter bitter pill to swallow.