Oden practices with Blazers teammates in public for first time
TUALATIN, Ore. -- Greg Oden can still dunk.
That much was clear Tuesday when the top pick in last year's NBA draft worked out in front of the media for the first time since right knee surgery wiped out his rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The 7-footer from Ohio State showed no signs of problems in two-on-two work with teammates Steve Blake and Channing Frye and former Arkansas star Steven Hill, a 7-footer invited to practice with Portland. Oden isn't allowed to go five-on-five until next month.
"I'm feeling good," Oden said. "I do not have any pain or soreness in my knee."
Asked whether he noticed Oden favoring his right knee, Frye dismissed it entirely.
"He favors dunking on your head, that's what he favors," Frye said after giving up his share to Oden in the workout.
Blazers fans fired up about Oden's arrival were stunned last year to learn that he needed microfracture surgery to stimulate cartilage growth by drilling tiny holes in the bone. Oden now says his right knee actually feels stronger than his left because of rehabilitation and conditioning.
The challenge at this point, he says, is mostly psychological, to stop worrying about the knee and to fulfill high expectations he knows fans have for the him and the team.
A lot of people say this is Greg's team. I think we're a great team and Greg is just a great addition.
-- Channing Frye
Oden is the first to admit he must start from scratch with his interrupted career.
"I'm still a rookie," he said. "I know I've got to keep that in mind and try not to let all the pressure overwhelm me."
Frye was supportive but mindful of Oden's own admission that he still lacks experience.
"For me, I don't know if this is the right thing to say, but he's yet to play in an NBA practice, he's yet to play in an NBA game, so I think the expectations are more on him personally than it is on everybody else," Frye said. "We know how good he can be, but he is still a rookie."
Even without Oden last season, the Blazers were 41-41, nine games better than their 2006-07 record.
"I think a lot of people forgot how good we could have been last year," Frye said. "A lot of people say this is Greg's team. I think we're a great team and Greg is just a great addition."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press