Scoreboard | Teams | Players | Depth Charts | West Standings | East Standings | Stats
|Baseball | Hockey | Football | Golf | Tennis | Soccer|
By John McMullen, NBA Editor
Greg Oden punctuated his delayed arrival to the NBA Tuesday with a thunderous dunk two minutes into the team's preseason opener against Sacramento.
"The big fella is a beast, man," teammate Brandon Roy gushed.
The Blazers went on to rout the Kings, 110-81, as Oden flashed his gaudy potential.
"I think Greg showed us what he can do when in deep," Blazers head coach Nate McMillan said. "We've got to get him in shape but you've got to see the potential he has. Sacramento could see it early by double-teaming him, showing him some respect. He has great hands. He can get off the floor quicker than a lot of people his size."
If you were a fly on the wall at The Sports Network offices, you would know the staff has some pretty entertaining conversations.
Most of them involve the more mundane topics like breaking down the season premiere of South Park or contacting Jack Bauer to find those missing pens. But, some actually involve sports -- the most spirited of which before the 2007 NBA Draft was Greg Oden versus Kevin Durant.
Being the wily veteran of the group I, of course, was on the right side since Day 1 -- Oden.
But, a surprising number of my colleagues were seduced by Durant's unbelievable skill. It seemed like every time Durant buried another three at Texas, it was like the Dark Lord of the Sith had clouded the vision of the staff.
I thought I could yell "gin," when I pointed out a national poll in which 20 of the 21 NBA general managers with the courage to answer the question of Oden versus Durant before the draft picked the obvious choice.
Then, it was Ohio State that punched its ticket to the Final Four while Durant was stuck on the sidelines accepting his AP Player of the Year award and dreaming about that upcoming multi-million dollar shoe contract.
The ultimate validation came in June of 2007 when David Stern stepped to the podium and informed us Portland selected Oden with the top overall pick.
Of course in the end -- at least to the people in the know -- it was never really a choice. Oden versus Durant was the ultimate no-brainer.
That's not a shot at Durant. You see, there are always skilled wing people. Athletic guys on the outside are as overpopulated as it gets in the NBA landscape. That's not to say players as good as Durant come around all that often -- it just means guys you can win with do.
Oden, on the other hand, is an endangered species. A true big man that actually plays like a big man in a game bastardized by the three-point shot.
Spending a year with the Buckeyes only sold me even more on Oden. While others saw it as a chance to poke holes in his game, I saw Oden developing the attitude it takes to succeed at the next level.
He was a huge and intimidating presence standing next to his college foes and that's where you develop the "big man" mentality, at least according to this generation's most dominant center -- Shaquille O'Neal.
"When you got three little dudes hanging on you and you're still dunking on their mugs, it makes you feel like a superior being," O'Neal told Mike Wise of the Washington Post.
Still, Portland had to be wondering if it made the right choice last season. It was Durant who was the NBA Rookie of the Year, albeit with a terrible Seattle team, while Oden's much-anticipated debut was delayed due to microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Now Durant is preparing to have another great statistical year in his new home of Oklahoma City.
Oden? He will be prepping for the playoffs with a 50-win Trail Blazer team.
"I had no problem (in adjusting to his first NBA game)," Oden said. "The guys told me, just to take a deep breath and go out there and play basketball. That's all it is. I'm not as good as I was but I'm going to get there."
Powered by The Sports Network