It's become apparent that former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden is going all-out, in his attempts to recover from the litany of knee injuries that limited him to just 82 total games in five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. The free-agent center, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, underwent the same knee treatment that Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez underwent in Germany to correct their balky knees. The technical difference is that Oden had his procedure performed in New York. The sad difference is that both Bryant and Rodriguez are in their mid-30s, and have championships to their credit. Oden, at age 24, has no such pedigree.
Only potential, as it's always been, cruelly cut down by a series of unfortunate maladies that resulted in an NBA-unprecedented third microfracture surgery. Oden has been in the news quite a bit since the Blazers released him in March. He was the subject of some discussion as to the Portland staff's role in his botched recovery, his admission to drinking heavily and struggling with the pressures of his status as the top pick in the 2007 draft, and his willingness to (of course) want to play for the downright center-less Miami Heat all hit our site this spring.
Bryant underwent the procedure, known as Orthokine, in Germany last offseason to relieve pain in his right knee and left ankle and returned to have a historically productive year in this, his 16th NBA season. Under Bryant's advice, Yankees superstar Rodriguez flew to Dusseldorf to have the procedure done in December. Gilbert Arenas also had the procedure done.
The procedure involves doctors taking the patient's own blood, spinning it in a centrifuge, making a serum and then injecting it into the knee. Doctors claim the blood then works to stop inflammation and reduce pain and cartilage damage.
(An aside: Kobe Bryant had an absolutely fantastic year in 2011-12, but what was "historically productive" about it? Did he break some record we were unaware of?)
Broussard quotes a source close to Greg as pointing out that both Bryant and A-Rod had their procedures done when their knees were finished with rehabilitation and healing. In Oden's case, though, the doctors recommended he undergo the non-evasive treatment in early May, just three months after his last microfracture surgery. Apparently Greg's situation is that dire.
New news is good news, though. In his interview with former AAU teammate Mark Titus, Oden pointed out that he was ready to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, even though Broussard mentions the possibility that Greg could return from a microfracture surgery midway through the year, which would involve about a 12-month rehabilitation. Personally, we like Oden's instincts in this situation.
Finding a team in the 2013 offseason to work slowly through 2013-14 with would mean Oden would be working his way back into NBA shape during a campaign he would only turn 26 years of age in, midway through the year. Sure, that birthday comes a good 6 1/2 years after he was drafted by Portland, but 26 is still young even by NBA standards, and Oden presumably would have all the chances in the world to eke out a career with possible medical advancements that weren't in place in Portland at his disposal.
This, we keep telling ourselves, is very do-able. 2012 might seem a million years removed some three years from now, when a healthy Greg Oden — in whatever uniform — is contributing on both ends at an age that sticks him still a year or two away from his athletic prime. Toss in the lack of wear and tear that he, sadly, missed out on between 2007 and 2013? This could still have a happy, and remarkable, ending.
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