PORTLAND, Ore. -- Top NBA draft pick Greg Oden doesn't
remember much from immediately after knee surgery. He was with his
mother at home when he found out how serious it was.
"I kinda looked at my mom and said, 'I'm out for the season? You kidding me?' " he said.
Oden will be on crutches for six more weeks. Full recovery
likely will take six to 12 months. He has started swimming, and a
machine gently bends his knee for six hours a day.
Oden was at the Trail Blazers' practice facility on Thursday on crutches and with his surgically repaired left knee wrapped in ice.
Except for a videotaped blog entry, it was the 7-footer's first public appearance since undergoing microfracture surgery on Sept.
13. He will miss the season rehabbing.
Oden was in good spirits, although he said the full impact of missing the season probably won't hit him until Tuesday, when the
Blazers start fall practice for the season.
"You know, it is a setback, but I'm excited to be able to scout the NBA for the whole year, and just know that next year when I
come in I'm going to be 20 years old, I'm going to be very mature,
and I'm going to be ready to play.''
He even predicted he'd be better than he was before: "I'm
hoping for a 40-inch vertical.''
Oden averaged 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds last season as a freshman at Ohio State, despite being hampered by a wrist injury.
He led the Buckeyes to the national championship game, scoring 25
points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss to Florida.
There was much fanfare when the Blazers got the first pick in the draft, and even more when the team chose Oden over Texas
forward Kevin Durant, who went with the second overall pick to
Oden was ushered into the city with a rally downtown, and a stories-high jersey with his name was hung on the Rose Garden
While losing its rookie center was a blow to the organization, general manager Kevin Pritchard said the team "couldn't be happier the way things are moving and progressing already.''
Oden remained lighthearted about how the injury occurred, saying it
was still a mystery -- he took time off after the draft, and then
started feeling pain when he resumed training. He did laughingly
admit to having a "Dance Dance Revolution'' interactive video game
at his home.
"I just want everybody to know, I did not hurt my knee getting up off the couch this summer, and I didn't hurt my knee playing
'Dance Dance Revolution' and break dancing this summer,'' he said coyly.
"That did not happen.''
The Trail Blazers visit San Antonio on Oct. 30 for the NBA's regular-season opener.
"We've got a great kid who really cares about this
organization, and his character is already shining through,''
Oden said the Blazers, with guard Brandon Roy, last
season's Rookie of the Year, and forward LaMarcus Aldridge, would
be fine without him.
"You don't know how good these guys are going to be this year. I've played against LaMarcus Aldridge, and he kills me every
time,'' he said. "If they want a basket, give him the ball.''