Mar 24, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
As you would expect, Greg Oden tried to play down his starting against the Trail Blazers Monday night.
Portland is the franchise that drafted him No. 1, that bet its future on him, and he played well for them until his body betrayed him and he required multiple knee surgeries. Because it was Kevin Durant taken behind him it was a pick that changed the fortunes of two franchises.
Monday night Oden will start for the Heat as the struggling Trail Blazers come to town but Oden played down the reunion, as was reported by CSNNW.com.
“It’s a game we need to win. We’ve been up and down. It’s just about this team and about us getting a win right now….
“Every game I’ve played is basically a circled date. I’m not trying to look at any team just because I used to play for them. I’m happy to be out there playing against anybody.”
This may have some emotion, but there is no bitterness here — even in Portland most people were rooting for Greg Oden to make it back.
He’s a well liked person who had to go through incredible amounts of rehab and effort just to make it back on the court. He could have walked away from the game with a boatload of money but wanted to play bad enough to fight all the way back. He provides some size that Miami needs come the postseason, especially with the big front line of Indiana looming out there.
Miami has struggled of late, going 4-7 in their last 11, finding they can’t just flip the switch like last season. There are a whole lot of factors that play into it — injuries, Dwyane Wade’s maintenance program, trying larger lineups — but it has LeBron James calling his teammates out. Through this, Eric Spoelstra seems committed to giving Oden the starter’s role and building lineups that way (probably largely with Roy Hibbert and Indiana in mind).
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