Odenís Summer Learning Experience
LAS VEGAS, July 10, 2007 -- Remember back in middle school what your first dating experience was like? We're together. We're apart. We're together. No, actually we're apart.
That is exactly how the most-anticipated match-up of the NBA Summer League presented by adidas feels.
One minute the No. 1 pick, Portlandís Greg Oden, and the No. 2 pick, Seattleís Kevin Durant, are going to meet on the final day of the 10-day tournament.
The next minute the date between the two future stars is off because Oden will be at the 2007 ESPY Awards on Sunday, July 15 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The next minute the showdown is back on when it is revealed that the taping of the show is actually done a few days earlier.
And finally, you find out that Oden-Durant: The Original is off because the Blazers have decided that Oden's swollen tonsils need to come out because they are obstructing his breathing.
Talk about a letdown. I had the game marked on my calendar the same way that I put an asterisk on days of the month that I get paid.
Here is what Blazers' General Manager Kevin Pritchard had to say about Oden's procedure, which is scheduled for Saturday.
"Greg felt that this was the right decision to make in the interests of his health, and we support that decision 100 percent," Pritchard said. "The sooner he gets the procedure done, the sooner he can get back on the court at full strength."
Anyway, what have we learned about Oden after two professional games?
For starters, he believes in being accountable for his actions. I thought his quote in The Oregonian spoke volumes about the type of person he is.
ďThere's no excuses because I was out there playing," Oden said. "And if I'm playing, I'm playing, so if I have a bad game, it's not on my tonsils, it's on me. A lot of it is I just have to get used to this game, that's what everyone is telling me."
Have you ever tried playing basketball with your mouth closed while pinching your nose? Probably not. But at times that is probably what Oden felt like on the court.
Regardless of the issues with his tonsils, it is obvious that he needs some work if he is ever going to come close to fulfilling the hype being placed on him by the basketball world.
No longer can he simply rely on his God-given size to simply overpower opponents like he did in high school and college. He must continue to learn the game. You know, positioning, footwork and all of the other tricks-of-the-trade that will come with time.
Officially his week in Las Vegas will probably go down as a disappointment. He posted six points and two rebounds along with 10 fouls in his professional debut (remember you get 10 fouls here) against the Celtics.
He improved in his second game against the Mavericks but still had a problem with fouls, getting whistled for nine. But in that game he showed glimpses of the player he will be, blocking four shots. He also scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds.
Oden will not participate in the USA Basketball Men's Senior National team training camp next week either.