Today marked a turning point for former Portland Trailblazers' center, Greg Oden. Its been four whole years since he practiced or played in a regular-season NBA game. However, today he hit the court, or should I say “ballroom,” for the first-time. For those wondering why Oden was even in a ballroom, as opposed to playing on a traditional court, its because the Miami Heat kicked off training camp at the Atlantis Resort on Atlantic Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
It was “Day 1” for the Miami Heat training camp, and a new beginning for the towering seven-foot phenom. August 7, it was announced that Oden secured a one-year guaranteed deal with the Heat valued at approximately $900,000. Now, he looks rebuild his stock, and remind NBA enthusiasts why he was the 2007 #1 overall draft pick.
The Heat camp started with an array of standard drills and defensive workouts. Oden participated in almost half of the entire practice session, which is a vast accomplishment given the extent of his ongoing struggle with knee problems. It'll definitely take Oden some time to adjust to the rigors of training, which is why the Heat hasn't given an exact time frame for when Oden will play a regular season game.
The last game he played was with the Portland Trailblazers on December 5, 2009, when he suffered a fractured left patella. Then, on November 7, 2010, Oden underwent a second surgery for the same knee. The micro-fracture surgery marked yet another season-ending upset. On Feb. 3, 2012, he injured his right knee, which resulted in arthroscopic surgery. Then, on February 20, 2012, just 17 days after his arthroscopic surgery for his right knee, Oden was prepared to undergo a similar treatment for his left knee, only to find that more damage to his articular cartilage was found. So in a nutshell, Oden has definitely had his share of hard luck where injuries are concerned.
According to ESPN, as the rest of the team advanced to the first preliminary scrimmage toward the end of practice, Oden was seated at court-side icing both knees. While his practice days are going to be relatively slow for now, he looks forward to the upcoming season.
Oden is optimistic about his return and appreciative of the Heat for the opportunity he's been given. He shared his sentiments in regards to his progress, anticipation toward practice and the upcoming season. "It felt good just being out there. First time in a while, I'm happy I got it completed. They had to pull me off the floor. But I've got to take steps," admitted Oden. "We'll keep going. Little by little," he said.
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