So, whatís a day in the life of Greg Oden like these days? Some pretty heady stuff. When heís not working out and counting the days until his name is called as the No. 1 pick on June 28, Odenís life has been in overdrive, crisscrossing the country where he recently traveled to Cleveland to check out the NBA Finals and rode to Game 3 with Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Bill Walton. So impressed was Oden that the next morning he rearranged his travel schedule to participate in an NBA TV legends roundtable with Russell, Walton, Bob Lanier, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson who all imparted life lessons on the 19-year-old.
Not bad for a player who will tell you with a straight face that he still considers himself a ďnobody.Ē
As he winds down his pre-draft preparations, Oden sat for a one-on-one interview and shared his thoughts on a variety of topics Ö. going No. 1, not going No. 1, the city of Portland, draft night suit, rookie goals, being linked with Kevin Durant ala Bird-Magic, unintentionally upstaging Usher in Cleveland, why Mike Conley Jr. is the next Tony Parker, hanging out with Russell and Walton, his favorite NBA player, what heís hopes to be in 10 years and why Shrek 3 wasnít as good as Shrek 2.
On His Day-to-Day Practice Schedule Leading Up to the Draft Greg Oden: I get up, I work out, basketball workout either at 10 and then a lift work out at 1 or vice versa. Itís like that every day that I am in Indianapolis. Iím done by three in the afternoon. I have time to just go out and have fun with my friends from high school who are back for the summer. I am just enjoying myself.
On the Prospect of Being Drafted No. 1 by the Blazers Oden: It is a very exciting time. But really I canít be too sure that I am going to be drafted No. 1. Going from the NBA Draft Lottery, you never know what is going to happen. So really I am trying to go into this with an open mind and I am just happy that I am being mentioned as possibly going No.1.
On Thoughts of Not Being Selected No. 1 Oden: I do think about it. Really I want to keep my head open. I donít want to get too high up on getting the No. 1 spot because you never know what is going to happen and if it doesnít happen I donít want to be too disappointed or seem too down. I am going in with an open mind. Anything can happen. Whatever happens was meant to be.
On Visiting Portland Oden: I have only been there one time, but I go there this week to work out for the Blazers so I will be able to see the city a lot more. People have told me it rained a lot, but when I was there visiting Nike, the sun was out and it was gorgeous. You got to see the volcano [Mount Rainer] from downtown. It was amazing, seeing all the hills, travel on the highway, all the trees, it was pretty nice.
On Being Approached by Fans in Portland Oden: I actually went there the day after the Draft Lottery, so everybody in the airport was looking at me, asking me about going there, wanting my autograph, like, ďYou better become a Blazer. Weíre going to show you a good time while youíre here.Ē It was pretty funny.
On Being Involved in the Community of His New NBA City Oden: Definitely that is something I love to do, especially being around kids. To be able to go to a new city and be able to expand and help out in different parts of the country wherever I am at, that is something I am looking forward to and that I want to do.
On How Life Has Changed Since the Draft Lottery? Oden: It has changed a little bit. Last week in Cleveland when I walked into the hotel, I walked right behind Usher and people were saying, ďHow are you doing Mr. Oden.Ē Itís like, are you kidding me? Usher is like five feet ahead of me and youíre saying my name? That was kind of crazy.
I still think I am a nobody. Really it hasnít been that bad. Really just at the airport people start to come up to me more. Usually two or three people might come up to me, but now itís about 15 people wanting pictures. Thatís a little crazy. Iím enjoying it and I donít mind signing autographs for little kids and taking pictures for them.
On the Status of his Right Hand Oden: My right hand is fine. I am working on it, just doing the same things I used to do.
On a Healthy Right Hand Helping His Offensive Game Oden: I am ready to go up against some competition to be able to show people my full game. Just being able to show how much I can use my right hand and how my left hand has improved. I am anxious being able to play with no boundaries.
On the Pressure of Being Labeled a Franchise Player Oden: That is a lot of pressure, but somebody just told me all you can ask for is for someone to come in and work hard. They canít help it if theyíre not blessed with the ability to be the franchise player or NBA All-Star. There is really nothing you can really do.
On Entering the NBA Along With Kevin Durant ala Larry Bird/Magic Johnson Oden: Kevin is a cool guy. If it was anyone to be joined at the hip with, when the person I am mentioned in a sentence with is Kevin Durant, that would be an honor for me. He is a great guy, a great basketball player. I am just enjoying it because me and him, whenever you see one, you see the other somewhere. I am just happy he is handsome because it wouldnít be too good if he wasnít.
I would love to win an NBA championship. That is my goal. To be able to have careers like those guys --Bird and Magic--that would be, man, that would be a dream come true.
On His Rookie Goals Oden: First off, make the playoffs. Even if itís not something where I donít play too well, but I am on the team and we make the playoffs, that is good. I want my team to win and that is what I am about. Everybody would love to be able to be great and make it to the NBA All-Star Game as a rookie. I mean, that is everybodyís goal. I want to do well. I donít want to get dunked on too much and I want to make it to the playoffs. .
On His Ability to Change a Game Defensively Oden: In college it is pretty easy because you have help side defense and I am always there because my man is always in the post. So it is pretty easy for me to be help side and be able to stop guys from coming to the hole and just be a presence on the inside. That is really what I do. I try to take some shots away with my long arms and just help out my teammates whenever I can, but be able to guard my man and still contain him.
On Who He Models His Game After? Oden: I actually just play. But really a guy that I would look to would be David Robinson, somebody like that who is a great player, kept his game in the mid-range and a guy who can just capitalize on things like that. That would be the type of game that I would like to have.
On Riding to Game 3 of Finals With NBA Legends Bill Russell and Bill Walton Oden: I learned so much in that those 30 minutes that Iíve been around those guys. I heard some funny stories. It helps me out a lot to know a little bit of stuff that I didnít know. Mostly just how this rookie year works and things you should do that will make your transition easier.
Those guys are all great. I am nowhere compared to any of them. I donít want to hear my name in any paragraph mentioned with any of those guys.
The level that Iíve been, the high school, the college, and the NBA level, all those guys have been great at it. To be able to be in the car and just be quiet the whole time and listen to those guys engage in conversation is an honor for me.
On Being Featured on the Same Topps Trading Card With Russell Oden: It is an honor to be on the trading card with him. I might want to ask him what he thinks about being on a card with a little peon like me.
On His Favorite Player Oden: Shaq because he is a big, he is a monster, especially when he was in Orlando, those times when he was in LA, he was everything to me. Heís a guy -- I am just going around yelling Shaq everywhere. Everytime I tried to dunk Iím yelling out Shaqís name. He was a monster.
On What part of Shaqís Game He Would like to Emulate? Oden: Domination. He dominates every game. Even now and whenever he is on the court he dominates. I met him one time when I was in L.A. We were in the same room in a restaurant together and I happened to see him leaving and he came over and shook my hand.
On His Favorite Team Oden: The Pacers. I lived in Indiana and Reggie Miller was everywhere.
On His Favorite Things to Do Oden: Go to the movies. I just like to hang out with friends. If Iím not going to the movies, Iím watching a movie.
On the Last Movie He Saw Oden: Shrek 3. I liked it. I thought the second one was better, but I still liked it.
On Desire to Play Alongside former Ohio State Teammate Mike Conley, Jr Oden: It would be nice to get him with me. I have been hearing talks about that but I donít know. I know Mike is a great player and he keeps on working, so I think he can have the chance to be a great player in the league. I hope he gets somewhere good where he can show his talents and be able to do that.
On Which NBA Point Guard He Compares Mike Conley to Oden: Tony Parker because of his ability to get into the lane and finish with big guys.
On What He Is Most Looking Forward to on Draft Night? Oden: I really havenít thought about that. I just know it is going to happen and itís going to be a very exciting moment. I know my family is going to be going crazy. So to be able to spend that moment with them and just enjoy it is going to be a new point in my life that has come along.
On the Draft Night Suit He picked out Oden: I donít know if I should expose it just yet. I am going to look good, that is the statement that is going to be made with my suit.
On What Heíll Be in 10 Years Oden: Hopefully an NBA champion.