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Oden's Injury

by Rich Kurz

Posted on September 13, 2007 at 5:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:41 PM

Just when it seemed the last piece had fallen into place for the Blazers, it turns out the sky was falling, too. At least that's how it has to seem for fans - and by the look of him, Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard. Check out the video of him officially announcing Oden's surgery. Pritchard looked like a guy who worked for years to score the car of his dreams, only to watch it roll backwards off a cliff the first time he parked it.

At least part of that concern has to do the very large ghost of Sam Bowie, the big man Portland picked when they passed on Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft.

Will Oden be the second coming of Bowie, who spent four injury-riddled years in Portland before getting shipped off to New Jersey while Jordan was turning into the best player ever?

The Blazers say they have no doubt that Oden will return - and return better than ever. Will he? Microfracture surgery is notoriously hard to predict. Amare Stoudamire of the Suns seems to have fully recovered, but has anybody seen Jamal Mashburn in an NBA uniform in a while? The PR folks up I-5 in Seattle have put together this list of NBA players who've had the surgery, along with their pre- and post-surgery statistics. They also point out that Oden is the youngest NBA player to have had the surgery. In their statement, the Blazers' team doctor cites Oden's as a postive factor for his recovery. Of course, the cynic would argue it's bad news that a guy so young has so significant problems with his knee.

But was he damaged goods all along? That's a concern several NBA execs had about Oden, according to columnist Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who broke the story about Oden being lost for the year.

Wojnarowski quotes one executive as telling him, "there were red flags everywhere" on Oden's pre-draft physical. Those red flags included his back, his wrist, one leg that's an inch longer than the other, and his knees. One Western Conference exec even told Wojnarowski that the team's trainers thought he had somewhat of an issue with the right knee - the one just operated on.

To be fair, these executives all admit they didn't put Oden through tests as extensive as the Blazers did, and at least one says he still would've drafted Oden even with the injury concerns. For their part, Portland management says Oden's knees were fine when they checked him out pre-draft.

So whaddya think Blazers faithful? Is this the second coming of Bowie, or just a short detour on the road to an NBA title? Sound off in our comments section.