Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, will forever be labeled as one of the biggest busts in league history, but on Friday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena, none of that mattered.
Led by LeBron James and his 25 points, the Miami Heat eliminated the Indiana Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, winning convincingly by a score of 117-92.
Oden only played four minutes in garbage time, tallying one rebound, one assist and one steal.
After the game in the Heat locker room, Oden grabbed the championship trophy and started dancing around with it to celebrate what his team had just accomplished.
Since 2007, Oden has played in just 103 regular season games as a member of the Heat and Portland Trail Blazers, the team that originally drafted him.
The 26-year-old has been on the sidelines for a majority of his career due to injuries to his knees and ankles. He’s had several micro-fracture surgeries to correct the damage, but his inability to stay on the court for long periods of time has unfortunately given him the “bust” label.
Considering what he’s gone through, it’s somewhat touching to see him so happy as he hoists the Eastern Conference Championship trophy. He may not have a large role in what the Heat are doing this postseason, but that shouldn’t tarnish this moment.
We’ll always remember him as the guy who was picked before Kevin Durant, but after a few short weeks, we may be remembering Oden as an NBA champion as well.
The Heat now await the winner of the San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference finals matchup.