Greg Oden, who has been plagued with injury ever since being drafted, has been given new life as a member of the Miami Heat. Last night, he saw his first NBA action since December 5, 2009.
The Heat won their preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans 108-95. He has been out for a total of 1,400 days, which can certainly be hard on any player coming back.
Oden, who was the No.1 overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State, is still struggling and suffered minor setbacks during training camp due to swelling in his surgically-repaired knee.
After being released by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012, he has been working on rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012 and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Before the game, coach Erik Spoelstra had not revealed his intentions for playing his new center, Oden, in his first game of the preseason. However, Oden was aware that he would be making his debut. Shortly after checking into the game during the second quarter, he was able to complete a two-handed dunk on his first touch of the ball.
Watching Greg Oden play his first game back in like 3 years was really nice to see
— Abbas A. Awan (@Hakunamatatta22) October 24, 2013
Welcome back Greg Oden!
— Zildz Cayamanda (@Zildz) October 24, 2013
Oden understands that it will take a while to get back to his full potential but is happy to be back in the game. After the game, he said "I know the guys were happy for me. I definitely felt love. And I'm excited that they were there for me." Lebron James showed his excitement for playing with his new teammate, and was excited to see him back on the court.
Greg Oden ended up picking up two points, two rebounds, a turnover, and a foul in his four minutes during the game. The Miami Heat are one of the elite teams in the league, and have won the previous two NBA championships. As a result, they will not have to use Oden as much as another team might, and are able to ease him back into the game slowly.
If Greg Oden can stay healthy and give them 20-25 minutes a game the Heat will be scary good this year
— Dustin Foster (@dfost23) October 24, 2013
I'm happy for Greg Oden. Hope he continues his road to success in the NBA
— Jamel Lewis (@Lewis_Jamel) October 24, 2013
Pat Riley, owner of the Miami Heat also made a statement about the addition of Greg Oden, saying “It was just a really great confidence builder for him. He’s not in shape yet but he’s getting there. We just have to keep him healthy.”