Oden paired with Hall of Famer Russell in first deal
Greg Oden has been drafted by a trading card company, and will be on the same team as Bill Russell.
A possible No. 1 draft pick, Oden signed a three-year contract worth at least $3 million Tuesday to become a spokesman for Topps Co. His first deal? A card featuring him and Russell, the Boston Celtics Hall of Famer, on the 50th anniversary of the company's first basketball set.
Like Russell, Oden is known for his ability to dominate a game on the defensive end with his rebounding and shot blocking.
"Certainly there's been a lot of comparisons to Bill Russell, which we don't run away from," said Bill Sanders, a vice president for BDA Sports Management, which represents Oden.
"I think that Greg has got a lot of that in him, but he's also got other skills in him that people don't necessarily associate with Bill Russell. Certainly he's honored to be mentioned in that kind of company. I think one of his goals is to accomplish a little bit of what Bill Russell did."
Topps will also help create Oden's official Web site.
Still to be determined is what team Oden will be on when his card is issued in August.
Wherever he lands, Oden hopes longtime teammate Mike Conley Jr. will be with him.
Oden and Conley won titles at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis before leading Ohio State to the national championship game. They were back home over the weekend for the Indianapolis 500 before heading to Orlando, Fla., for the predraft camp.
"I mean two kids that won in summer basketball, won in junior high school, won in high school, won and were successful in college and then go pro together, that's probably never happened before in the history of the game," said Conley's father, Mike Conley Sr., who works for BDA Sports Management. "And if they were successful at the NBA level, that would be a marketer's dream."
It would be difficult, however, to get the on the same team because Conley Jr. is perhaps the top point guard in the draft and figures to be off the board quickly. He could go as high as No. 3 to Atlanta, which is desperate for a point guard after passing over Deron Williams and Chris Paul with the second pick two years ago.
Though Oden would be the top pick of many teams because franchise centers are rare, the Blazers, with Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge on the roster, could be one of the few in position to consider Durant.
Durant, the freshman who starred at Texas, beat Oden in the card contract race when he signed with Upper Deck earlier this month.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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