Greg Oden Dunks in Preseason Debut with Miami Heat
By Chris Greenberg
Greg Oden is back.
For the first time since Dec. 5, 2009, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft was playing in an NBA game on Wednesday night when the Miami Heated visited the New Orleans Pelicans for a preseason contest. The former Ohio State star has been hobbled by knee injuries since the Portland Trailblazers picked him over Kevin Durant in 2007 and has played a paltry 82 regular-season games.
The 25-year-old center checked into the game with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter. Moments later he had his teammates cheering. Taking a pass from Bosh deep in the paint on Miami’s next offensive possession, Oden rose up over Al-Farouq Aminu and threw down a two-handed dunk.
“It’s been a long time and I’ve been wanting to get out there,” Oden told reporters after Miami’s 108-95 victory, via The Associated Press. “It was only a couple minutes, but it was what I needed, what I can handle right now and, you know, small baby steps.”
Oden played just under four minutes and this was his only basket in his Heat debut. The oft-injured big man signed a one-year deal with the two-time defending champions in August. Despite his short stint in Miami, his teammates seem to have rallied around him after the hard-luck start to his NBA career.
“It was a very special moment,” LeBron James said. “I have no idea what my feeling would be like, being away from the game for three years. It was like a proud moment, man. I was so excited for him when he got on the court and he checked in — and his first basket he gets a dunk. Can you write it any better?”