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Greg Oden retired from basketball
Quote:Greg Oden says he's done playing basketball: 'It's over'

It’s been 869 days since the last time Greg Oden saw action during an NBA game. It doesn’t sound like there’s going to be a next time.

The Indianapolis Star’s Dana Hunsinger Benbow recently caught up with Oden, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball and 7-foot phenom once touted as the sport’s next great big man. A decade ago, he’d starred at Ohio State University, earning NABC Defensive Player of the Year honors and a consensus Second-Team All-America nod for his work in leading Thad Matta’s Buckeyes to an NCAA national championship game appearance. A decade ago, he was on his way to the pros, destined for superstardom after the Portland Trail Blazers selected him over Texas star Kevin Durant to be their center of the future with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft.

Now, after seeing his seemingly limitless promise washed away by injuries that ruined his career, Oden’s back on campus as a student, a team manager and something of a cautionary tale. His story’s not over — after all that’s passed, he’s still just 28 years old — but the chapter in which he tries to play professional basketball is. From Hunsinger Benbow:

Quote:Oden is enrolled this semester at Ohio State, a 28-year-old sophomore majoring in sports industry. When asked if he’d play basketball again, he said, “I wish. It’s over.” Instead, he is back with the Buckeyes as a student coach, helping out the players and Matta any way he can.

“I wouldn’t say I regret anything,” Oden told IndyStar Thursday in a phone interview. “I would say I just wish I did things better.”

Knee injuries derailed Oden’s once-promising career, limiting him to only 82 total games over five seasons in Portland. He also struggled with alcohol during his time away from the court, an issue that reportedly “remained a concern” during Oden’s final NBA season, a comeback campaign as a member of the 2013-14 Miami Heat, “as he sat out many games because of soreness in his knees and back.”

Alcohol also reportedly played a role in the 7-foot-, 280-plus-pound Oden allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend three times in the face and breaking her nose in the summer of 2014 at his mother’s home in Lawrence, Ind., in August 2014. Oden faced trial on felony battery charges in connection with that incident, after which Oden reportedly told police, “I was wrong and I know what has to happen.” He reached a plea agreement in the case, pleading guilty to battery with moderate bodily injury. He was required to pay a $200 fine and complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous classes and 909 days of probation.

Less than two months after the plea deal was finalized, Matta said Oden was back working out at Ohio State with the Buckeyes’ coaches, and said “there [was] a possibility he may make another run at” a return to the NBA after playing just 219 combined regular- and postseason minutes for the Heat, averaging 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per game. After visits and workouts with several teams in the spring and summer of 2015 came to naught, though, Oden headed overseas to continue plying his trade for the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. He averaged a double-double in 25 games before his non-playoff-bound team terminated his contract with two days left in the season “so they didn’t have to pay me for February.”

After returning to the States, he linked back up with his old coach, catching on as a student manager for the Buckeyes, though he was reportedly “not fully done with his playing career” as of this past April. Now, though, Oden’s mind appears to have changed, according to Hunsinger Benbow:

Quote:Just five weeks ago, Oden became a father to a little girl. He and the baby’s mother live off campus in Columbus.

“I wanted to stay around basketball and coach gave me a lifeline to be here,” he said. “To give me something to do with my afternoons.

“I’m still trying to figure out my life. Since I’ve been in fourth grade, all I’ve known was basketball. I’m just trying to better myself and work on my degree and set something up for the future of my family.”
Quote:Oden on His Legacy: 'I'll Be the Biggest Bust in NBA History'

Former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden has come to accept the fact his lasting basketball legacy will likely include being the biggest bust in NBA draft history.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN passed along comments Oden, the first overall selection in 2007, made to Outside the Lines about trying to move forward after failing to reach the sky-high expectations.

"I'll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history," Oden said. "But I can't do nothing about that."

The Buffalo native, who's now 28 and works as a student manager at Ohio State while taking classes, admitted to OTL he'd love to get an opportunity to change that status. He also understands his body simply isn't capable of giving him that chance, though.

"Don't get me wrong," Oden said. "If I was healthy, I would love to continue playing, but I'm not healthy."

The seven-foot post player looked like a can't-miss prospect. Scout ranked him as the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis in 2006 thanks to a dominant combination of size, touch around the rim and old-school pure power.

He lived up to the hype during his only season with the Buckeyes. He averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks while shooting 61.6 percent from the field.

The Blazers proceeded to make him the top pick in a talented draft class that also featured Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley and Joakim Noah taken inside the top 10. In addition, fellow center Marc Gasol, a two-time All-Star, was taken with the 48th selection by the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oden didn't come anywhere close to matching any of their productivity at the NBA level. He averaged just 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks across 105 career games split between the Trail Blazers and Miami Heat.

Most of those struggles can be linked to an inability to stay healthy. His injury-plagued NBA tenure started by missing his expected rookie campaign due to microfracture surgery, and staying on the floor was a constant struggle from that point forward.

Ultimately, Oden is a victim of circumstance. It's not like he failed as a basketball player. His body merely couldn't hold up against the rigors of an NBA season. And the immense success of Durant and Horford, the next two picks in his draft class, leads to more scrutiny.

Now he's focused on moving past the disappointment. His comments show he knows the bust label is something that won't disappear, but he's not shying away from basketball, as he's now helping the Ohio State staff while trying to finish his college degree.

EDIT - this was the 33,333rd post on the forum!
Dude was a complete bust. Even Milicic was better. Maybe his career would've been better had he headed overseas instead of sticking to the NBA.
(11-16-2016, 04:38 PM)buckstims Wrote: Dude was a complete bust. Even Milicic was better. Maybe his career would've been better had he headed overseas instead of sticking to the NBA.

We will never know but I think it would have been a good decision by Oden to come over to Europe a few years ago. In a good situation he could have even worked his way back to the NBA. And if not maybe have a solid career in Europe. It's just a shame when top talents end up like that.

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