Greg Oden is taking his talents to South Beach.
Now, the question is – how much talent does a man, with multiple knee surgeries and an almost 3 year absence from basketball, possess?
On Friday, Oden agreed to a two-year deal with the Miami Heat that will pay him the veteran’s minimum (a tad more than $1 million a year) and give him the chance of winning an NBA Championship – behind Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Jesus Shuttlesworth and the “flying tattoo“.
The average person knows two things about Oden:
1. He was drafted first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, ahead of Kevin Durant.
Counting all that free money the Portland Trailblazers are getting ready to give him (2007 NBA Draft)
2. His career has been ruined by repeated injuries to both knees, and he has not played in an NBA game since 2009.
Counting all that free money the Portland Trailblazers gave him (Majority of career)
So, what should anybody give two shakes that the Heat picked him up?
Can he even contribute?
Will he be able to stay healthy?
Those three questions can be answered by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, circa 1999:
If the Heat complete a “3peat”, by winning the NBA Championship next season (becoming the first team since the Lakers did it at the turn of the century) – that’s great. But it won’t depend on Greg Oden.
They’ll be the most-covered team in the league. Yes, that’s true. But that won’t be because of Greg Oden.
ESPN is going to be focused on LeBron James’ impending free agency (Lord God, in Heaven, please spare us another “Decision”). Skip Bayless is going to argue with Steven A. Smith, in regards to Dwyane Wade’s health. Finally, all the “fake Heat-Haters” (I’ll discuss that later this week) will chime in on the difficulty of winning three titles in a row. While all of that is happening, Oden will take his sweet time getting healthy enough to play, at which point Erik Spoelstra will ease him into the rotation, and Pat Riley will see if the former No.1 pick can be the next cog in another, successful, title run.
Oden’s role, once he’s ready to play, will be simple: be the black Chris Andersen (reference, the aforementioned, “flying tattoo”). He’ll come off the bench for 10 or 15 minutes a game, rebound, block shots, score on putback dunks and use his six fouls. Funny thing, they won’t even rely on him solely for that – the white Chris Anderson was just re-signed in July.
If healthy – Oden is set to give the Birdman some, much needed, help this season.
Reminiscing on what “could have been” with Oden is pointless. We all know what a beast he was, back at Ohio State. Shoot, we saw glimpses of that when he was on the court in Portland. But that was 87,281 surgeries ago – he is not the same player. He will never be that player. But, Pat Riley isn’t expecting him to be. We shouldn’t either.
Oden is doing this to put his own demons at rest, he’s just lucky enough to get paid while doing it .Unless he does the impossible and convincea LBJ to ditch the headband and go bald, he’s never going to be able to shake the “bust” label. He will ALWAYS be remembered as the second coming of Sam Bowie (for the younger generation, wearing Jordans, that don’t know who Mr.Bowie is – consult Wikipedia).
But he has two choices here; In 10 years, the Wikipedia page on Oden can read “He was drafted ahead of Durant, couldn’t stay healthy, got caught sending naked photos of himself, then disappeared off the face of the earth,” or it could be “He was drafted ahead of Durant, couldn’t stay healthy, got caught sending naked photos of himself, made a decent comeback, then helped the Heat win a couple more championships.”
I’d opt for the second option.
Anyway, since he’s going to South Beach, let’s queue Will Smith …