From NBA bust to NBA bust-a-move.
The long, strange journey taken by the Miami Heat’s Greg Oden culminated in a locker room celebration following the defeat of the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals last night. Oden even saw some time on the court in the 117-92 blowout victory over the Pacers, totaling up a meager 1 rebound and 1 steal in 5 minutes of playing time.
For Greg, who was the number one draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, injuries can account for his dubious distinction as one of the NBA’s biggest busts. In fact, before the Heat came calling this past offseason, Oden hadn’t even seen the basketball court in three years. His last full season in the NBA was the 2009-2010 season with the Trail Blazers where Oden played in just twenty-one games before his ailing knees forced him into early retirement.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated recently, Oden acknowledged that his career did not go as expected. Quoting an article on Grantland.com, Oden said:
“I know I’m one of the biggest busts in NBA history and I know that it’ll only get worse as Kevin Durant continues doing big things … It’s frustrating that my body can’t do what my mind wants it to do sometimes. But worrying or complaining about it isn’t going to fix anything … I wish the circumstances would let me play more, but I certainly don’t regret coming back, and I don’t regret signing with the Heat.”
But with the Miami victory over Indiana, it’s Oden, not Kevin Durant, who assured himself a spot in next week’s NBA Finals. That being said, the intriguing possibility of a Durant-Oden showdown looms with the Thunder taking on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals this weekend. According to Oregonlive.com the match-up could end up re-writing the outcome of the 2007 draft:
“[Oden] could face Kevin Durant in a series that would give one of the two — the injury-cursed player Portland selected No. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA draft or the player Rip City passed over who went on to become this season’s NBA MVP — a championship ring.”
Still, everyone acknowledges that Greg’s days as a potentially dominant force in the NBA are over and that Durant was by far the better player drafted back in 2007. But for at least one night, Greg Oden got to celebrate as a contributor to a championship caliber team.
Watch Greg Oden celebrate the Miami Heat victory courtesy of his Instagram page. And check out Greg Oden’s celebratory tweet below:
Greg Oden, Eastern Conference Champion pic.twitter.com/Ecm8TRqPTO
— Dane Carbaugh (@danecarbaugh) May 31, 2014