At this point in Greg Oden's career -- if you can even term his time with the Blazers such a thing -- the one-time Next Great Big Man is less a basketball player than an occasionally ambulatory symbol of lost dreams and the inexact science of draft scouting. The NBA, like the rest of a world, is a cruel beast, and sure-to-be stalwarts can be cut down before they ever get to give us a whiff of what they might have accomplished.
However, Oden is a real basketball player, shockingly enough, and he's currently rehabbing from the second microfracture surgery in his career. On Friday, he told the Blazers TV crew all about it during the team's home victory over the Blazers. Ben Golliver of Eye on Basketball has the details:
During Friday night's game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers in Portland, Oden joined the Blazers Broadcasting telecast to provide an update on his rehabilitation from microfracture surgery on his left knee that he underwent in November.
Oden said that, as of now, he's "still doing two-leg strength, body weight stuff" and that any type of on-court basketball activitiies are "very far down the road."
Asked specifically when he might make a return to the court, Oden said, "I can say, over five months away. I won't start running until then."
Oden is now nearly five months out from his surgery so another five months would mean he wouldn't be cleared to run until almost 10 months after his surgery. Originally, doctors anticipated Oden would miss "at least a year" due to the microfracture procedure.
To get some sense of how long five months is, please recognize that five months would mean Oden could only run (i.e. not perform in basketball activities) several weeks before the start of training camp in a non-lockout season. Oden would probably need several more months to build up his strength, and even then there's no telling how his knee would hold up to repeated stress. He's a long way off from playing again. (UPDATE: It's possible that Oden referred to "running" in the sense of "a run," a common term for a pickup game or practice.)
It's almost bizarre to hear a rehab update from Oden. Whereas other injury-prone athletes still produced memories on the court, Oden has only played 82 games in his four years with Portland. (For the sake of comparison, the much-mocked Sam Bowie played 76 games in his rookie season.) Oden can't be counted on to contribute anything because he has not yet shown the ability to stay healthy, so what does his rehab even mean? Is he a basketball player or a hypothetical?
This is a sad state of affairs, but it's the ugly truth of Oden's career. Updates like this one only serve to remind us that Oden is perpetually months away from seeing a basketball court. Don't call him a bust or cautionary tale, because he hasn't played enough to provide evidence for either claim. He's a living spectre.