November 17, 2010
The Blazers announced Wednesday night that Greg Oden(notes), who has yet to play in a game this season, will undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee this Friday and miss the rest of the season. In case you forgot, Oden also missed his entire rookie season due to microfracture surgery, although that was on his right knee.
This is the third time Oden has suffered a season-ending knee injury. Last December, he fractured his left patella and missed the rest of the season. He has played in just 82 regular-season games nearly 3 1/2 years after being selected first overall in the 2007 NBA draft ahead of Kevin Durant(notes).
[Rewind: Why Greg Oden insists he's not a bust]
It's tempting to call Oden a bust, but this kind of injury history is colossally bad luck more than any sort of personal failing. Perhaps the Blazers could have done a better job checking Oden's knees before drafting him, but it's hard to find people who were predicting the sort of knee trouble to this extent at the time of the draft.
[Photos: More of Greg Oden]
At this point, it's hard to think that Oden will ever get a real opportunity to fulfill the massive potential that had him pegged as the best American big man prospect in a generation. Only Kenyon Martin(notes) has also had microfracture surgery on each knee -- and he still has a great deal of athleticism after returning last season -- but he at least had a pre-injury career to build on when he returned to the court. Now in his fourth season with the Blazers, Oden has yet to create a clear role for himself on the roster. How can you count on a guy who's so rarely available to play?
It's a sad turn of events for a man who by all accounts has worked hard to become a valuable player. Unfortunately, it's unclear if that hard work will ever turn into substantive production.
All we can do now is wish Oden good luck and hope he can complete what would be one of the most impressive comeback stories in the history of the league. But we have to be honest: The odds are not fantastic.
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