Oden, Blazers must avoid perils of a premature comeback
Having been an NBA general manager, I can tell you that the news that Portland's Greg Oden will miss the season with a knee injury is devastating for the Trail Blazers. Let's be honest: It's very difficult news to hear if you're with that team, or a fan of the team, and you're going to see and read a lot of doom and gloom about the Blazers and their future.I was a member of the Blazers when we drafted Sam Bowie over a guy named Michael Jordan -- just like the Blazers drafted Oden over Kevin Durant. You'll get the obvious comparisons, especially with Durant right up the road there in Seattle. Durant is going to have a terrific year for the Sonics -- he's an exceptional athlete -- and when you're the Blazers and know that and you now know that Oden is going to be out the whole year, that's a very tough situation. There's a temptation to be emotional, even despondent. But when you step back and analyze this, it's important to note the following:
European Reaction To Oden News
Sergio Rodriguez heard the news about Greg Oden, but didn't want to believe it. Out for the season? The entire season?
Rodriguez wanted to hear that news from the Trail Blazers themselves, which is why he planned to place phone calls to Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and some of his Trail Blazers teammates as soon as he exited the Madrid Sports Palace, where he had played just eight minutes in Spain's 83-55 rout of Germany in the EuroBasket quarterfinals.
"I'm going to call now, then worry about that. But I don't know, I can't talk now," said Rodriguez, who had hoped to be lobbing alley-oop passes to the 7-foot Oden for the next seven months.
Now, he'll have to wait another year.
"Wow, that's bad news," Germany's Dirk Nowitzki said upon learning of Oden's setback. "I mean, I think he would be good for the league, and anytime a player gets hurt it's tough. He's going to be a good prospect for this league, and it's sad to hear."
The news of Oden's surgery traveled around the world relatively quickly, but it didn't reach the ears of Spain's Rudy Fernandez until ESPN.com let him know about it in the hallway leading to the players' locker room at Madrid's Palace Arena.
Fernandez's eyes shot wide open when he heard.
"Really? Greg Oden is a really good player. I look forward to playing with him one year from now," said Fernandez, whose rights were traded from Phoenix to Portland on draft night in late June. He plans to play one more year in Spain before going to the NBA, and now it appears Fernandez will be a rookie in Portland the same season in which Oden is a rookie in Portland.
The injury also means Fernandez and the rest of the Spanish team will have no chance of seeing Oden in Beijing next summer. Not that it was likely, but there was an outside chance, given his age and his size, that Oden could have been added to Team USA's roster for next summer's Olympics. Now, in addition to likely not being able to wear a Portland jersey until the fall of 2008, Oden won't get to wear a Team USA jersey for at least another three years.
-- Chris Sheridan in Madrid
MORE NBA HEADLINES
Portland Trail Blazers rookie center Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, will miss the 2007-08 season after undergoing knee surgery.
News• Oden talks about his post-surgery rehab
• Oden's first season lost to knee surgery
Commentary• Katz: Oden driven to get in paint
• Stein: Bowie feels Oden's pain
• Simmons blog: Blazers don't deserve Bowie 2.0
• Adande: More misfortune in Portland
• Ford: Silver linings for Oden, Blazers, NBA
• Hollinger: Injury costs Blazers playoff shot
• Vandeweghe: Go slow with Oden, Portland
• TrueHoop: Grieving with Oden
• TrueHoop: Worst case scenario
• Fantasy spin: Who does it impact
• Vitale: Injury blow for Portland's Oden
• Broussard blog: Don't count Oden out yet
Audio• Bill Walton on Oden's situation
• Blazers' Pritchard: Oden was still right pick
• Ric Bucher reacts to injury
• Agent: He will be back