Saturday, March 29, 2008

Greg Oden risks life and limb!

Well, that's the impression I get when I read some of the recent news articles.

If you haven't seen the news, apparently Greg Oden decided to participate in a few games of pick-up basketball at his local fitness facility. Oops. Apparently that was a terrible thing to do.

The Blazer's weren't too happy about their recovering big man playing pick-up basketball.

Look, I understand that Oden's coming back from an injury and that the Blazers have a lot of money invested in him. On the other hand, from reading the reports it doesn't sound like he was engaging in any running or jumping beyond what he was actually cleared to do. The problem appears to be that he was doing it with "non-professionals."

Sorry, but I can't get too worked up about it. It doesn't sound like he was playing with players good enough to make him really exert himself. It sounds more like he was playing with a bunch of people like me-- decent high school level players, but nothing much beyond that level. In other words, they were excited to be on the same court as him, knew they were out-classed, and most likely were just enjoying the experience. Oden probably didn't get much beyond jogging and making some easy (for him!) dunks.

The summer after Rasheed Wallace graduated from high school, he spent a day at the swim club my family belonged to. He was on his way to UNC, and I'm pretty sure he had been told not to risk injury playing pick-up games with random people. Well, you know what? He played some basketball, some volleyball, and even a little tennis. I wasn't there for the basketball, but from all accounts he didn't really need to exert himself at all to be by far the best player on the court (not to mention the tallest player by a foot). If that's all that Greg Oden was doing, then he's just as likely to get hurt walking around his house (or getting up from the couch, as seems to have been the cause of his original injury) as by playing basketball.

I think everyone needs to just relax.

[I believe that commenter Louis played basketball with Rasheed that day, so hopefully he can add some details in the comments.]

[Late Update- 4/14/08- Just came across this article that includes Oden's description of his pick-up basketball excursion, for what it's worth:
"I just wanted to get out there, I haven't been out there in so long,'' Oden said. "But the thing was, it wasn't as deep as people made it to be. It was a jog, a couple of jump shots, maybe one or two dunks. It wasn't that big of a deal. At least not to me.''


Louis said...

I did play with 'Sheed that day and I must admit that I think Sam is underestimating the possibility of injury precisely because the level of play at a pick-up game in a 24-hour game is so far below level. The game at the swim club, if you care to flip back to some of the posts from the beginning of this blog, can be physical-to-dirty depending on the players. 'Sheed made a conscious effort to stay out of the lane on offense but that didn't keep people from setting elbow-laden picks on him or trying to get through him while he was grabbing a defensive rebound.

Those were 45-years old lawyers and insurance salesman who were all fans of his and hoping he would do well at Carolina. Oden, on the other hand, went to a 24-hour gym where a lot of the players, at least at the gym around here, really care about how they play and how they look on the court. It's not just fun for them; they want to prove that they could have made it. What better way than against a pro? If he was on the court with the wrong person, or people, it could have turned ugly really easily.

My final thought is this, even if he was on the court with people who understood that he just wanted to take it easy, who were awe-struck to be on the court with him, the fact that his level of basketball and theirs is so far apart could put them, accidentally, under his legs while he was coming down from a jumper or rebound or knee-to-knee with him as he drove the lane. It’s something like a major-league baseball player jumping into a men’s league baseball game. Of course he’s on a higher level, and the pitchers are not as good as in “the show.” But that fact also makes it more likely that an errant pitch finds it’s way into the major-leaguers ear, or that the short-stop, not realizing the range that the major league player has in the outfield, comes back and takes out his legs.

Yes, Oden should be able to play. Yes, maybe people were over reacting, but no, I don’t think the team is wrong to be pissed.

Sam Cohen said...

I didn't realize that the gang was so physical with Rasheed that day. I just assumed everyone would have had the good sense to back off a little bit...out of a sense of self-preservation if nothing else!

Louis said...

Weekend warriors know neither fear nor appropriate behavior.