It’s been a long road to recovery for Greg Oden, and he hopes this is the year where he’ll finally get to step back onto a basketball court and play the game he loves.
Forget about living up to his billing as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft. No, he’s more worried about just being able to even play in a live game after missing most of the past five seasons of basketball due to various knee injuries. He hasn’t played a game since 2009 and has been healthy enough to appear in just 82 career games.
He’s never been healthy since coming to the NBA. Multiple micro-fracture surgeries on his ailing knees have kept him off the court, but the thought of the 7-footer being able to show some semblance of the great player he was destined to be was enough to entice the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat to sign him this summer.
Tuesday was a bit surreal for Miami Heat center Greg Oden.
Not only was he going through his first NBA practice in four years, but it was taking place in the middle of a hotel ballroom on a tropical island.
The Heat opened training camp with a standard, defensive drill-oriented workout in a warehouse-like conference center at the Atlantis Resort. Oden took part in about half of the practice, but that still was a significant step forward as he attempts a long-shot comeback after not playing since December 2009 because of chronic knee problems.
“It felt good just being out there,” Oden said. “It’s the first time in awhile, I’m happy I got it completed. They had to pull me off the floor. But I’ve got to take steps.”