The year was 2007 the Jail Blazer era of the Portland’s NBA team had ended. But the team had finished among the bottom four and had missed playoffs for four years in a row. The team had already seen a shimmer of hope in rookie of the year Brandon Roy, but a guard alone was not enough for a team that was rebuilding from scratch coming off a near extinction after team owner and ex Microsoft CEO Paul Alan bought the Rose Garden Arena and pulled it out of bankruptcy.
Then something unexpected happened, the Portland Trail Blazers won the lottery and picked up Ohio based center Greg Oden though half the world expected they would pick2007 National College Player of the Year and the 2006′”2007 Big 12 Player of the Year Kevin Durant. Oden was expected to be the savior of the Trail Blazers, he suddenly became the name of the Portland households and the Demi-God to all Blazer fans.Â
He brought with him to Rose city basketball fans joy and faith, he also brought with him something that was not immediately seen, he brought with him a curse, a curse of injury that started with Oden himself getting injured even before he could play his first NBA game and eventually sitting out for the whole rookie season, he went on to miss a fair part of his second season too before emerging like a polished star and shined brightly for the first few games his third season, then during a match on December 5 2009 Oden went down in front of the packed TrailBlazer fans, the fans shouted ODEN, ODEN… As he was carried away, the stadium chanted his name as if hoping that would resurrect him reminding everyone of the ‘I Believe in Fairies scene in Peter Pan.
But truth remains that not only has Oden not yet returned and will not return for the remainder of his fourth season, that he has also set in motion a cycle of injuries that did not spare even the coach Nate McMillan, who injured himself in practice, at one point last time there were only eight, yeah you read right, 8 players who were fit to play.
What started out as a dream come true when Portland won the lottery has turned out into a nightmare, trainer JayJenson stated that he was afraid when the players were on floor that another one might get injured, the curse was not only on the floor, recovering center Pryzbilla injured himself slipping at home, Pendergraph sported a black eye after getting punched accidentally by fellow team mate Bayliss.
What once seemed to be a sure path to the championship has now become a rough road to playoffs, Blazers are struggling more (if that’s even possible) after letting go some key bench players like Travis Outlaw, Jerryd Bayliss, Juan Howard and assistant coach Monty Williams who is now doing a great job in New Orleans. Blazers are sing to teams that are below .500. TThe management and team shuffle has certainly given the team a new look, a look of pity seeing the way the games go.Â
Oden has so far played a total of 82 games and around 2000 minutes his whole NBA career, the average minutes played by a starter in NBA is around 3000 each season. Oden has been extended only once season by the Trail Blazers, with this track record it’s got to be difficult for Oden to get a decent offer from any team. It is not clear if we are to pity Oden or scorn him and the same applies to the Trail Blazer team.
Oden along with Roy and forward Aldridge were seen as the trio whose names would be etched in TrailBlazer history as the men who put Portland on the path to a photo session in the White House, action poses of the three emerged all along Portland and a big hoarding opposite Rose Garden arena read “Raise With Us” along with the stern, determined faces of the big three. But now it has been replaced with just a bunch of hands, may be due to the fact that as an ardent fan commented the slogan with the big three would be rather ‘Rehab(ilitation) with us’ or ‘Recover with us’. Hopefully soon the injuries as well as the image of the team will recover. And good luck to Oden wherever he ends up.