Greg Oden’s story certainly has been one of the most disappointing in the NBA within the last decade. He has had injury after injury, which has allowed him to only play in 114 games since his debut in 2007. However, despite all his injuries, Oden did not want to give up on a career in the NBA, most recently playing for the Miami Heat last year. Since last season was a rare injury-free one, many thought he would get picked up by another NBA squad this offseason. Unfortunately, after a battery charge earlier this week, Greg Oden may have played his last NBA game.
Early Thursday morning, police were called onto the scene of a suburban home owned by Oden’s mother. Once the authorities arrived, they found a 24-year-old woman on the couch with a beaten, bloody face. Police questioned the woman as to what happened, but she insisted that the injury had been a result of falling down. Oden, who had previously dated the woman for two years, explained to the officers that he had hit his ex, after attempting to break loose from two people holding him back. One relative of Oden further explained to police that whenever the free agent center and his ex get together, it results in heated arguments.
Due to Oden’s violent actions, he was taken to a police station in Marion County Jail, where he was given a preliminary charge of misdemeanor battery. He was released later Thursday evening on $10,000 bond. James Bell, Oden’s attorney, will now wait for a court hearing to be scheduled.
This latest incident is the latest in a very troubled career for the infamous center, who assisted in leading his Ohio State Buckeyes to the NCAA championship game in 2007. Immediately upon his entrance into the NBA, he was heralded as a return to the traditional center. While in college, he was one focused on being defensive-minded big man, who also had no issues in attaining substantial rebounds. During his one-year stint at Ohio State, he averaged 15.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg and a jaw dropping 3.3 bpg. Since that time, Oden has been dealt a rough hand, suffering injury after injury.
Much like Blake Griffin during his first season, Oden missed his entire rookie season after being drafted by the Portland Trailblazers. In Oden’s case, he needed microfracture surgery on his right knee. During his one-year recovery time, Oden did not keep his body in top shape. He arrived at training camp totaling 290 pounds, an overwhelming 40 pounds over his natural weight. Despite his less-than-ideal shape, Oden would eventually make his NBA debut in a mere 13 minutes of play. During the game, he would sustain a foot injury that cost him two weeks off the court.
While he was nowhere near top shape during the 2008-2009 season, his rookie year served as his healthiest in the NBA. During the season, he played 61 regular season games, 39 as a starter, as well as six playoff games. During his season, he would show a mere fraction of his potential with 8.9 ppg, 7 rpg and 1.1 bpg in an average of 21.5 mpg. He turned heads in 2009, particularly in January, where he managed to post 24 points and 15 rebounds in a game over the lackluster Milwaukee Bucks.
The following season initially appeared to be full of promise for Oden, but after a successful November, where he averaged 12.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 2.1 bpg, he fell victim to a fractured kneecap after only 21 games. He would never play another game for Portland again, despite multiple attempts at rehab.
It was in January of 2010 that the controversy surrounding Oden went beyond his injury problems. A private photo of his genitalia would surface on the internet, in an embarrassing moment for the center. Oden also admitted to having an alcohol problem, before stating he was giving the bottle up.
Following his embarrassing off-court issues, the following two years would result in more surgeries. First, he had an issue with a non-weight bearing ligament. The following year, he would sit out again by having his third microfracture surgery. This one was on his left knee. A month after the surgery, the Trailblazers had given up all hope on Oden. They waived the injury-plagued big man after only 82 games played in five seasons.
Last summer, the championship Miami Heat signed Oden for a minimum deal, where he played 23 games in the regular season. As a result of his rare appearances, he put up 2.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg and .6 bpg in a mere 9.2 mpg. He also played sparingly in three playoff games, where he essentially flat-lined in 2.3 mpg.
Considering Oden’s lack of production, he was going to be a hard sell for any team this summer. Regardless, Oden was rumored to be one of a select few centers, including Andray Blatche and Andrew Bynum, to try out for the Los Angeles Clippers, who are desiring a big man off the bench. Given his injury-riddled past, Oden would have been a risk for the Clippers, but he did have a chance to make the team.
Now with Oden’s current legal problems, it will be a harder sell for the big man to make it to the Clippers or any other team for that matter. It is one thing for teams to be weary of a player who, likely, has not seen his last injury, but it is another issue altogether to bring a player on who will, most likely, come with a suspension.
Worse yet for Oden is that his current situation comes on the heels of NFL player Ray Rice. The running back was recently charged with assault when he was seen on video, dragging his wife-to-be from an elevator, after he had beaten her. The NFL handed down a punishment of two games for the football player’s charge. As a result, the football league has been under heavy scrutiny for not handing out a harsher punishment. Due to the scrutiny, and how NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handled the Donald Sterling controversy, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Oden would receive a much stiffer punishment. Because of this, teams may very well be too skittish in handing Oden a contract, when he has significant baggage.
Throughout the last seven years, Oden has received much sympathy throughout the NBA and sports world. After all, he is a player who had significant potential, but due to injury problems, it is likely that he will never live up to the hype. Now, with a charge of battery, Greg Oden may have played his last NBA game, after his subpar season in Miami. Unfortunately, this time, the free agent center will not be receiving any sympathy. He may not be approached by another team again. Finally, he may have put the final nail in the coffin of a busted career.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey