Back in March, we noted
that Mark Titus
, a former player on the Ohio State University men's basketball team, had written a book that included an extended discussion of his friendship with former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, which dates back to AAU basketball.
Titus has conducted a must-read, feature-length interview
with Oden for Grantland.com
"You're a fun-loving guy with a ton of personality," I said. "So why do you hate it so much when people approach you in public? Why don't you let your personality shine through and smile when you take pictures with fans?"
"Because I don't understand why they are so excited to meet me," Greg responded. "I'm just a person. I guess I didn't really mind it when I was at Ohio State and even right after I was drafted, but it just seems so fake now. Like, why are you bothering me at dinner for a picture when I'm nothing now?"
"For starters, Portland isn't a great city to live in if you're a young, African American male with a lot of money," Greg explained with an embarrassed grin. "But that's especially true if you don't have anybody to guide you. Since I was hurt the entire season, I was on my own a bunch and didn't have veteran teammates around to help me adapt to the NBA lifestyle."
"If you know anything about guys in the Air Force," Greg explained, "it's that they drink a ton. My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I'd drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I'd drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic."
Dealing with another season-ending injury and now nude pictures circulating on the Internet, Greg sought out sports psychologist Joseph Carr. In the spring of 2010, Greg began seeing Carr regularly, and he paid for their sessions with his own money. Months later, when the season started, the Blazers also hired Carr, who started showing up at games and practices. Greg said he saw Carr talking to Blazers front office personnel on several occasions. This seemed like a conflict of interest, Greg said, and he couldn't shake the suspicion that Carr was sharing details from their sessions with the team. In response, Greg stopped meeting with Carr and his distrust of the Blazers deepened.
Oden was released by the Blazers in March and is currently rehabilitating from microfracture knee surgery.
Titus writes that Oden's plan is to sit out for the 2012-2013 season and resume his career after that.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter