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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Sam Bowie Jinx: Blazers' Greg Oden to Have Knee Surgery Again

Way back in the Jurassic era of the NBA, the Portland Trailblazers had a choice to make. After the Houston Rockets chose the University of Houston's Hakeen Olajuwon with the first pick in the draft, they had to choose between, among others, a center from powerhouse Kentucky or a swingman from powerhouse North Carolina. Conventional wisdom in the NBA at the time was that you couldn't win without a dominant big man, so the Blazers chose Sam Bowie of Kentucky. Picking third, the Chicago Bulls chose Michael Jordan of North Carolina. We've all heard of Jordan, and most have forgotten about Bowie, for whom injuries ruined what could have been a very good career.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when the Blazers had the first pick in the draft and chose Greg Oden, a center from Ohio State about whom the writers and scouts gushed. He was the obvious first pick, and in selecting him the Blazers were preparing for a bright future. In chosing Oden, they passed over, among others, a 6'10" forward from Texas with great shooting ability. His name: Kevin Durrant (with whom Coach K fell in love while coaching the U.S. National team this summer). Well, Oden just learned he'll have season-ending surgery for the second time in three years. Durrant, meanwhile, is one of the best players in the game, and would get more coverage if a) he weren't playing in Oklahoma City (where he's very happy) and b) he weren't caught in the East Coast/West Coast crossfire as to which is a better team, the Lakers or the Heat and who is the better player, Kobe Bryan or LeBron James. Once again, it looks as though the Blazers picked the wrong guy (even if at the time there were good arguments to take both).

I feel badly for the Blazers and Oden in particular, as neither deserves this fate, and it's unfortunate to see the same form of bad luck befall a franchise twice within the same quarter century. It might turn out that Oden will get fully healthy and fulfill the large promise that attached to him resulting from his outstanding play at Ohio State, and that would benefit the Blazers and the NBA. But for the meantime, the parallels will be drawn, and every time Kevin Durrant draws another accolade, every Blazers follower will wince with the feeling of what might have been.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam Bowie at the same point in his career had about a half season more games than Oden and had better numbers to boot. Stop dissing The Bowman by comparing him to Olden.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

With all the injuries the Blazers have had over the past few years, we might want to start pointing fingers at the training staff.

And there is one difference between Bowie & Oden. Oden's injuries were unrelated to each other - where Bowie's were systematic relating to his knees.

And if we want to talk about the Blazers Big Men, we also have to include Bill Walton.

10:59 AM  

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