Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Godspeed to Greg Oden: Part 2

By Adam Maher

Five years ago this week, I was an 18-year-old second semester college freshman living in Millis Hall at the University of Vermont. It had been just seven months since my parents signed my first tuition check, and with $800 worth of textbooks, a mini-fridge full of nothing, a Martin guitar, a laptop, no major, a now-estranged girlfriend, and a random kid from Vermont named Albert Xander III who regularly somersaulted toward the door before exiting our 10x14 ft. dorm room to call my roommate, I was most likely more confused then than I'll ever be.

One of the few things that at the time was actually for certain in my life, however, was the fact that Greg Oden was awesome at basketball. An 18-year-old seven-footer from Indiana High School with monstrous athleticism, by late February 2007 Greg Oden became the NBA's last chance to employ their favorite type of player: a legitimate big man.

Hakeem the Dream, Moses Malone, David Robinson, Shaq, The True King, Jabar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were all about to witness their second comings. Dwight Howard knew he was about to have some stiff competition, and Greg Oden knew he was about to own the game. But then disaster struck, and the rest is a history full of surgeries.


On Tuesday, when news broke out that Greg Oden's infamous knee had earned him the decision of a lifetime, to retire, or to embark on another 13 months of rehab with surgery, my heart dropped. Having missed hundreds of games due to injury already, this is in all likelihood career-ending news for 24-year-old Greg Oden.

Greg was and could've been an unbelievable asset to the NBA for years to come. He would have sold thousands of jerseys and could have flourished as a basketball ambassador with his gargantuan smile. 

His presence on the court will be missed.

Similar to Yao Ming's situation, when dudes like Greg Oden aren't playing, competition throughout the league diminishes drastically. It's like steroids with baseball: just as every MLB player who played in the steroids era will have an asterisk next to their name for the unknown, every NBA player that would have played in the Greg Oden era will have an asterisk next to their name for what could have been. He was that good.

The idea that Greg Oden gave my freshman-in-college self peace of mind will always be a fond memory for me. Watching him play live was pure spectacle. No player could ever compare to Oden's ability to fire up a crowd. Except for the greats.

Godspeed to Greg Oden. 

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing story. A really emotional moving account of such a touching story, also a very honest account of your first days at UVM. Your writing is flowing from within you more beautifully with everything you write. I think you are definitely onto something that will be a passion for life. I'm feeling very emotional and very proud.