Greg Oden

The Big Hurt - Greg Oden wants back on the court

EPISODE 1: What if he just played with pain, a lot of pain?
March 5, 2012 / By Kokoma Ika and Cliff Pfenning

As much as the public can make fun of Greg Oden's career, or cringe at the thought of Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge playing alongside one another, or even shake a fist at the NBA Salary structure that has paid out so much for potential, you have to feel a little for the guy.

If there's one thing worse than playing poorly, it's not playing at all.

And, Portland seems to have given up on him, or at least his knees.

If the only future career he's going to have in Portland is fictitious, here's our version:



Written by
Kokoma Ika
and Cliff Pfenning





BLAZE, The official Portland Trail Blazers mascot, paces back and forth, in front of the Blazers locker room as a package delivery driver walks up, looks both ways, then hands him an envelope.


In huge block letters - VAIL COLORADO ORTHOPEDIC CENTER - is
stamped in the left hand corner. In the center, Greg Oden.

Blaze looks around and sees no one.  He opens the package and pulls out a plain brown 9 X 12 envelope with X-RAY written in block letters in the center.  He frees the clasp and pulls out a single sheet of medical information, which he holds up to a light.

He stares at the X-RAY for a moment, then puts it back into the envelope.
His head slumps as he heads for the door to the locker room.


GREG ODEN, a 7-foot, 285-pound basketball player, pedals vigorously on a
stationary bike.  He watches a television showing a replay of the 2007 NCAA final
between Ohio State and Florida.  A determined focus, a driven stare,
occupies his demeanor.
Sweat cascades down his face.

 A BLAZER TRAINER enters and heads straight over to Oden.

                    BLAZER TRAINER
    Man, you were a beast in that game.  
    I love the dunk that’s about to come up.

Greg slows down his pace, wipes his brow, and stops pedaling.

                    GREG ODEN
    Those were good times...

                    BLAZER TRAINER
    Seen anything yet?

                    GREG ODEN
    Just 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

                    BLAZER TRAINER
    A delivery guy is supposed to be here soon.

He points at Oden’s knees

    Make sure you ice those down when you’re done.

                    GREG ODEN
    The ice machine.  I’m about ready to give it a first name.

The Blazer Trainer walks away.  Oden grabs the remote control off a stool next
to him and increases the volume on the TV.  He pedals harder and harder as the
game nears its conclusion with Florida winning.  As Florida celebrates, Blaze appears.
Oden slows down and stops.

Blaze walks over to Oden and pauses for one second, two seconds, three seconds.  
Then, he hands Oden the envelope.

                    GREG ODEN
     That bad, huh?

Oden takes hold of the envelope so the contents can slide out.  
He raises the X-RAY to the light and takes a deep breath.  
Then, he looks down at his knees.

                    GREG ODEN
    Man, the media is going to eat this up.  
    Sports radio is gonna eat this up.  
    My agent’s gonna hate me.  

He pauses

    This probably won’t even make Sportscenter.

He glances back down at his knees.

                    GREG ODEN
    Why do you guys hate me so much?

Oden looks fixedly at Blaze.

                    GREG ODEN
    Hey, get me some ice...

He casts his attention away for a moment, then looks back at Blaze scooping ice
out of the ice machine.

                    GREG ODEN
    Those guys from 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, you think
    their knees hurt after a game? Moses. Kareem. Mikan. Wilt. Those guys
    probably would’ve thought a micro-fracture was something that happened
    to a pencil. You think Bill Russell ever missed a season because his knees hurt?  
    Or his team sat him down because he was an investment? He probably would
    have told some writer the team didn’t want him to play because it didn’t want
    to sell tickets. Then, he would’ve put on a jersey, walked onto the court and
    grabbed 30 rebounds. Walton had major problems and he still won a title.

    What if I just played?  

    I gave myself the summer to heal as much as possible from this ...

He picks up the X-ray and glares at it.

    ... and then just played? I get paid whether I play or not.  Think
    they’ll sit me out because I grind my teeth when I run? Or I look like a convict
    when I’m not on the bench with ice on my knees? That would be a look for
    those point guards coming down the lane. “Hey boy, you don’t want to be coming
    down here because I’m not a center, I’m a defensive tackle! So you just stay
    out there in three-point land!”

Blaze looks at him and shakes his head

              GREG ODEN
    What? You saying I can’t act?
    The public would love me do death if I get on the court, even if I had to play with
    ice bags on my knees instead of knee pads.

Oden shakes his head slightly and grins

              GREG ODEN
    I could run for President if I could play 10 games.  
    “Ice Man!”  I already got my nickname.

He fixes his stare intently at Blaze.

                    GREG ODEN
    I know. There’s already an “Ice Man” in the Hall.  “The Ice Man Returneth!”  Sports Illustrated cover right there.
    Refrigerator companies will be begging to get me as a spokesman.

His head slumps, he looks at the floor and then back at
Blaze.  Blaze shoots a look back at him and tips his head
down slightly.

                    GREG ODEN
    Think I can do it?  Ten games?  If I could just play ten games. All those surgeries.  All that time off.  I bet no one even remembers
    the last time I played.  I barely remember.

    You know, I have 41 different suits - one for each home game I can’t play in.

Blaze shakes his head slightly

             GREG ODEN
    Yes, I’m only using 33 this season.
    I don’t want to wear those suits at games.
    I want to suit up in Nike, not Armani.

    If I could just play 10 games, I’ll bet they’d make a movie about me.
    You know that football movie ... “Rudy”? That guy didn’t play 10 games.  

Oden gets off the exercise bike and walks gingerly to a nearby couch and sits down.  
Blaze returns with two large bags of ice.  Oden puts them on his knees.

                    GREG ODEN
    If I could just play 10 games. We could pick the games, too. Home games.
    Important home games. Why do I need to play against the Hornets
    or Bobcats ... or the Spurs when they sit their starters?
    The team really only needs me for big home games and the playoffs.

    They could sell it as a 10-game package.
    We could make it a big deal when I do play. Tweet to the world - Oden
    on the floor tonight! I could appear ... yeah ... like a bullfighter!
    My own dance team ... “The Odenettes!”

    They could dress like nurses!

Blaze looks at the floor and puts his paw over his eyes
Oden pauses and rubs his forehead with the back of one hand.

Short pause

             GREG ODEN
    I had this dream the other night where the inside of my house had been
    transformed into the ice planet Hoth. And, this tall dude walks in and over
    to me and ... and it’s Wilt. He says to me, “Greg, I am your father.”

Oden looks at Blaze and shakes his head

            GREG ODEN
    This not playing is killing me. I’m goin’ nuts. I gotta get on the court.
    Play in front of people.
    Talk to reporters while I’m still sweating.
    Get a highlight on Sportscenter!
    There’s barely any centers in the league anymore. I could be an All-Star on 10 games.

    Man, I’m gonna do it!  I’m gonna play no matter how much it kills me.
    Ten games. We can film it as a documentary and then donate the proceeds
    from the DVD to a charity that helps kids walk.

Blaze and Oden stare at each other. Then Oden looks away and slowly shakes his head.

              GREG ODEN
    Gonna play. I’m gonna play. Man, I’m gonna play. Ten games.
    I’ll get my face back on that grain elevator across the street from the Garden.

Oden looks back at Blaze

              GREG ODEN
    Hey, tonight, get me a photo of Wilt and one of Russell. And Walton. And the name
    of his surgeon. We don’t want that guy.
    And, look up the history of ice ... get me some background so I can dazzle
    all those bloggers who work out the salary cap in their Cheerios.

    ”The Ice Man Returneth.”  

    I’ve got a college buddy who can start that onto the web.
Blaze nods his head slightly

              GREG ODEN
    My body is gonna hurt like hell, but I’m gonna play.

Blaze holds the envelope forward and slowly rips it in two.
Then he and Oden clasp forearms.

              GREG ODEN
    I’ll ask Obama to be my VP. He can do that, you know?

                                              FADE TO BLACK:

Sportsland, Oregon: 11/23/2010 - #38

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 2:13am
Carlos Molina
Carlos Molina's picture
Last seen: 8 years 27 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-08-13

In the first part of an extra long holiday podcast, Los and the gang delve into the Blazers injury woes and their outlook for the rest of the season, and discuss the action around the rest of the league. Then they move on to BCS talk, including possible championship scenarios, Black Friday, and awards winners. This is all followed by the NFL, and early seasoncollege basketball action.

In Part 2, Los and the gang wrap up everything else they missed in Part 1, including NCAA Women's soccer, Baseball Rookie's of the Year, High School football playoffs, Kentucky vs Portland in Men's basketball, and this week's segments, including This Week in Oregon Sports History and What Plucks My Duck.

For Oden, there’s only one righteous move

Sun, 11/21/2010 - 9:11pm
Wanna Be Like Mike

Oft-injured Blazer center Greg Oden underwent successful microfracture surgery on his left knee in Vail, Colorado Friday, but the implications of his most recent season-ending injury will reach far beyond this year thanks to a complicated contact situation.

This is going to be a hot topic throughout the season and well into the summer, so I'm reposting this column from Thursday on my blog for a little extended exposure: (sorry for the ghetto link... technical issues).

It's my take on why Oden should do the right thing, and why the right thing is re-signing next season with the Blazers for the league minimum. Give it a read, and tell me if I'm crazy, a genius or something inbetween.




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