By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Aug 3, 2013 12:32 AM
Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden will give it one more try in the NBA. Oden chose the Miami Heat Friday, one of six teams that had been on his list of finalists to try and make his return from injuries that have limited him to exactly one full season's worth of games, 82, in six seasons.
Oden had been working out for several teams for the last couple of weeks, trying to convince teams that he could potentially return to the form that made him the top pick of the 2007 Draft. Oden chose Miami over five other teams vying for his services: Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Sacramento and San Antonio.
Since being waived by Portland in March 2012, Oden has spent much of his time rehabbing in Ohio, where he starred in one season at Ohio State.
ESPN.com first reported Oden's agreement with Miami. The Heat will have the luxury of bringing Oden back to form slowly. Miami re-signed veteran center Chris Andersen earlier this month to back up starting center Chris Bosh, so Oden will not be needed at the start of next season as he tries to get back in game shape.
The 25-year-old Oden has been star-crossed ever since the Blazers took him first overall in 2007, a pick ahead of Kevin Durant, who went to the then-Seattle SuperSonics. The two have been linked ever since, with Durant turning into a superstar, leading the now Oklahoma City Thunder to the Finals in 2012, while Oden has been besieged by injuries.
Oden had been injured in his only season in college, at Ohio State, tearing a ligament in his wrist that required surgery, keeping him from making his college debut until December. Essentially playing one-handed for much of the season, he was an AP first-team All-America, and led the Buckeyes to the national championship game, where he dominated future pros Joakim Noah and Al Horford. But Noah's and Horford's Florida team nonetheless beat Ohio State for the national title.
Oden's rookie season in Portland ended before it began, when he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in September 2007. The Blazers were confident that Oden would make a complete recovery and return for the 2008-09 season. And he played well most of what was his "rookie" season, averaging 8.9 points and 7 rebounds in 61 games -- though he missed three weeks after chipping his left patella in February 2009.
Oden was occasionally dominant the first month of the 2009-10 season, posting five double-doubles, including 13 points and 20 rebounds against Miami in November. But on December 6, 2009, he fractured his left patella in a game against Houston, a gruesome, freak "explosion" injury that occurred when Oden was jumping, and didn't come in contact with anyone. Of course, he missed the rest of that season.
Oden spent almost a year trying to rehab that injury, but when he ramped up his physical activities before the start of the 2010-11 season, he knees gave out on him again. Swelling in his left knee after a pregame workout in November, 2010, led to an MRI that showed damaged cartilage in his left knee, which required microfracture surgery on that knee. Oden, again, missed the entire season. And he missed the following season as well, when his right knee, which had been relatively stable since the initial microfracture surgery in 2007, began acting up again.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery in February 2012 to clean out debris in that knee.
The Blazers had tried everything to try and figure out why Oden's knees couldn't seem to support him. But, finally, they gave up on him, adding him to the unhappy list of big men that were cut down by injuries there, including Bill Walton and Sam Bowie.
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