Thursday, September 13, 2007

Horrible Oden News

I was just on my way back to my desk when I got an email from my buddy Josh Stump which read, "It was microfracture." I barely made it the rest of the way to my office.

If you are a Blazers fan, or even just an NBA fan, this is far more depressing news than referee scandals or plummeting NBA Finals ratings. This is "you have to be kidding me" territory.

Obviously, the first place this news takes us is back to the Sam Bowie conversation. Leading up to the draft, one of the big fears in taking Oden is that the Blazers might somehow be tempting fate, since the last time they had the chance to take either an electric perimeter player or an imposing big man, they opted for Bowie over Jordan in one of the most infamous draft choices of all time. The comparison seemed wrong for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Portland wanted Hakeem that year but missed out when they didn't get the number one pick. So comparing Hakeem to Jordan was more appropriate. But now that Oden is already going to be shelved for his rookie year, the Sam Bowie/Michael Jordan comparison is more apt. The specter of Bowie is going to loom over EVERYTHING.

The second place this is going to go is the inevitable comparisons to other NBA players who have had microfracture surgery. This tends to be better news for Blazers fans. I think we still recoil at the term "microfracture," because very recently it appeared to be an injury from which there was no coming back. Now we just know that it takes at least a full year, maybe more. Jason Kidd is no spring chicken, yet he has bounced back well enough to be the key guy on Team USA. Zach Randolph carries more weight on his frame than Oden, yet was able to come all the way back and have a monster year for this very same Portland team last year. And Amare Stoudemire is a player that relies far more on his athleticism than Oden and managed to make the NBA's first team all-league last year. No doubt Amare isn't quite the same guy, but he's still pretty fantastic.

The one player that has to worry the Blazers is Kenyon Martin. That is because K-Mart has a star-crossed injury past that sort of mirrors the path that Oden is on. While Oden never shattered a leg like Martin, he did have the broken wrist at Ohio State and was already down with tonsillitis during summer league play. K-Mart is the one NBA player of recent vintage that hasn't been able to get back to full health (yet) and that has to scare the good people of Portland.

All told, this is horrible, horrible news. No doubt the immediate gut reaction for the Blazers is to want to turn the clock back to draft night and take Kevin Durant instead. The urge to second-guess and wonder "what if" is going to have to be suppressed, otherwise, it will cause you to go crazy.

The Blazers need to use this season to continue Roy's development, let Aldridge grow into the monster that he's destined to become, and maybe boost the trade value of some expendable (or maybe not so expendable now?) players like Joel Przybilla. They need to sit comfortably in the knowledge that Oden is young, that his knee is otherwise healthy, and that the injured area was small (all similar to the first reports about Amare's knee, by the way - of course, they had to go back in on Stoudemire). Mainly, they need to take some solace in the knowledge that this type of procedure has come a long, long way. The days of Terrell Brandon and Jamal Mashburn seeing their careers end over this are over.

Oden is going to be okay, as long as no one panics.

And as long as there really is no Bowie Curse on this franchise.

1 comment:

Josh Stump said...

I appreciate the words of hope, but I'm not ready to hear it. I will be in mourning for the foreseeable future. I may not even get out of fetal position until October '08.