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Oden still has hopes of playing this season

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

Greg Oden(notes) felt his left knee buckle and before he could collapse to the court, the Portland Trail Blazers’ star-crossed center was already thinking the same horrible thought everyone at the Rose Garden would soon be wondering.

Not again.

Oden’s worst fears were soon realized. He had fractured his left kneecap – an injury that threatens to sideline him for what appeared to be a promising season. Nearly three weeks after the Dec. 5 incident, Oden said Thursday he hasn’t given up hope of playing again, even if the Blazers aren’t planning for him to return until next season.

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Greg Oden
Greg Oden is focusing on returning to the court.
(Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images)

“I’m keeping positive,” Oden told Yahoo! Sports. “I’ve gotten started on my rehab and it’s definitely making me feel good that I’m already getting started on coming back. I’m always staying positive and looking forward to a speedy recovery. I’m praying that the thing heals a lot faster than it was already projected to.

“They say that I’m out for the year, but I’m hoping that the rehab goes good and things are looking better. I want to come back at the end of the [season]. That’s just me wishful thinking, but you never know.”

Oden also knows history isn’t on his side. He missed his entire first NBA season after having microfracture surgery on his right knee. Last season, he was sidelined for another 20 games, including 14 for a bone chip in his left knee.

Oden hadn’t even fallen to the floor in the Blazers’ Dec. 5 game against the Houston Rockets when he knew he was seriously hurt again.

“On my way down I could see my kneecap,” he said. “I saw one part of it, then I saw a little hole and I saw the other part of it. So I knew it was broke by the time I hit the ground.

“It’s frustrating going through this. But I got to deal with it and it’s kind of a freak accident. That means that God meant for it to happen.

“I was just [playing well], we were winning this game so far … let’s get it going and then it happened out of nowhere.”

After struggling with expectations that came from being the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, Oden told Yahoo! Sports during the summer that he had begun meeting with a sports psychologist to rebuild his confidence. He also lost weight during the offseason and worked on his game with Blazers assistant Dean Demopoulos in Columbus, Ohio. He had begun to play up to some of his potential before his latest injury, averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 points and 2.3 blocks.

Oden said he began bending his right knee Wednesday and is now walking with crutches. He hasn’t been told when he’ll be allowed to resume physical activity, but despite yet another significant setback, he remains upbeat.

“I can rehab whenever I need to and when I need to say off of it, stay off of it,” Oden said. “I’m definitely not forcing anything. I’m not doing anything I’m not supposed to. … I told them whenever I get better they need to let me use a cane.

“Somebody told me when this happened that God does this to people who can get through it. When they told me that, I felt like this is really something I can control. I’m definitely going to be strong and come back from this hopefully better than ever.”