Greg Oden’s NBA career went from best to bust; he beat Kevin Durant for the number 1 spot in the 2007 NBA Rookie Draft. But the hype didn’t meet expectations. What happened to Greg Oden?
He earned numerous awards during high school and college, but his body couldn’t withstand the physical requirements of professional basketball. Greg Oden played three seasons while sitting out four during his seven-year career due to multiple knee injuries.
Know what made a promising player retire from the league at the young age of 26.
Who is Greg Oden?
Greg Oden Sr. and Zoe gave birth to Gregory Oden Jr. in New York on January 22, 1988, with a younger brother Anthony. When Greg was nine his family moved to Indiana, and he enrolled at Sarah Scott Middle School in Tera Haute, where he picked up the game.
High School Years
However, Greg’s parents separated, and he and Anthony moved in with their mother in Indianapolis, Indiana, and attended Lawrence North High School. Greg led the Lawrence team to a three-peat in the Indiana Class 4A basketball championships before completing his education in 2006. His remarkable performance earned Greg the following awards :
- 2006: Mr. Basketball USA, Naismith Prep Player of the Year, McDonald’s All-American, Indiana Mr. Basketball, Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year, First Team Parade All-American
- 2005: Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year, First Team Parade All-American
- 2004: Third Team Parade All-American
Oden and Lawrence North High teammate Mike Conley Jr. joined Ohio State University to play for the Buckeyes in 2006-07.
Oden underwent surgery in Indianapolis to repair a ligament injury to his right wrist that was acquired late in his senior year of high school. Fortunately, the Buckeyes were at the top of the leaderboard. He did not play at the beginning of 2006-07.
On December 2, 2006, Oden made his college debut as the sixth man in a game against the Valparaiso Beacons. In 23 minutes of play, Oden produced 14 points, five blocks, and ten rebounds, and the Buckeyes won going away 78-58.
Oden saved Ohio State’s 85-84 victory over Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen by blocking a shot that could have won in the final seconds. Oden led Ohio State to wins over Memphis and Georgetown for the right to play in the 2007 National Championship. The Buckeyes lost to the Florida Gators to repeat as champions in the title game 84-75, but Oden had 25 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocked shots.
In his rookie year, Oden was named First Team All-Big Ten and the Defensive Player of the Year of the conference to add to his growing number of achievements.
Oden and Kevin Durant were named to the Associated Press All-American Team in 2007. Both were the third and fourth overall freshmen students to be bestowed the prestigious award.
Overview of His NBA Career
Teams had their eyes trained on Oden, but the Portland Trailblazers beat them when they selected him as the number 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Rookie Draft.
Much hype was expected from Oden’s entry into the Blazers’ lineup. Fans anticipated a Blazer banner year, and the franchise signed him for a two-year contract.
In his NBA rookie year, Greg Oden injury to his knee required surgery sitting him out for the 2007-08 season. Remember, Oden had to sit out at the start of the 2006-07 NCAA Division I tournament due to surgery on his injured right wrist. His status as a rookie was dragged out the following year because of injury.
It marks the first time a Number 1 pick did not play due to injury in his rookie season; David Robinson’s absence was to fulfill his commitment to the Navy.
In 2008-09, Oden made no point in his first match in 13 minutes of play, leaving the court injured again. After two weeks on the injured list, Oden was finally on the record books with a three-point performance and two rebounds against the Heat. He picked up his game and stayed healthy, but a knee cap injury in 2009 sidelined Oden for a month.
He had some excellent highlights during his first season in the league, but it wasn’t enough for Oden to be named to the All-Rookie team. He ran out of time.
Oden had a good start in the 2009-10 campaign with a dominant performance in the season opener against the Houston Rockets, swatting the ball five times and caromed 12 boards. He continued to progress and was the only player in the NBA 2009-10 season to score at least 16 PPG, 12 RPG, and 3 BPG in 36 minutes of play.
But Oden’s breakout season suffered a blow. Rockets Aaron Brooks accidentally hit the big man on December 5 and was carried off the court in a stretcher. Multiple injuries requiring surgery kept him out of seasons 2010-13.
With no hope of a healthy Oden, Portland waived him in March 2012. Miami Heat franchise, hoping things will change, offered Oden a one-year contract joining the formidable threesome of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh in season 2013-14.
The big man has an opportunity to get his game back in shape, but expectations were not met. Oden played only 23 games due to a back injury which limited his time to 9.2 minutes per game and a dismal performance of 2.91 PPG, 2.35 RPG, and 0.57 BPG. His production didn’t help the Heat’s aspiration for a three-peat, and the San Antonio Spurs romped off with the championship 4-1.
Teams like Mavs, Grizzlies, and Hornets showed interest in his services, but nothing materialized.
What Happened to Greg Oden?
With no takers, Oden packed his bags and played overseas for the Jiangsu Dragons in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) in 2015.
In 25 games, Oden averaged 13 PPG, 12.6 RPG, and 2 BPG. A decent production for a basketball player, but NBA players were expected to show eye-popping numbers. The Dragons missed the playoffs, and the CBA team did not renew his contract.
Oden’s inability to contribute to the Dragons’ cause marked the end of his professional basketball journey. There are lesser leagues, but the pay is less than the CBA.
The Injury That Ended Greg Oden’s NBA Career
Oden was a seven-year NBA veteran who played for three seasons, two with the Blazers (2008-10) and Cavaliers (2013-14), and sat out four seasons, 2007-08 and 2010-13. He kept trying to be healthy, but his knees won’t let him. Oden went under the knife five times for knee injuries.
He had an opportunity to renew his fledging career when the Cavaliers offered him a contract in 2013. Oden was a welcome addition to the deadly triple threat of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. But it was wishful thinking; his subpar performance did not help the Cavaliers achieve a rare three-peat.
The Cavs franchise walked out on Oden by not renewing his contract. It was the last time he wore an NBA jersey; Oden retired in 2014 at age 26.
Greg Oden’s Post-Basketball Career
Oden completed a degree in sport industry in 2019 while working as a student manager and assistant coach for the university from 2016-19. After Oden’s return from China, his life was in shambles, but it turned around when he married his girlfriend Sabrina in 2017. He took his Ohio State coach’s advice, Thad Matta, to finish his college study.
In 2019, representatives from the NBA and the league’s player association recommended him to Edyoucore as an athlete advisor.
Oden is presently the Director of Basketball Operations at Butler University.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happened to Greg Oden?
Greg Oden’s high school and college achievements made him the next big thing in basketball. But along with expectations came multiple injuries, mostly knee, that hounded Oden during his NBA career. What happened to Greg Oden’s knee?
Three of Oden’s five knee surgeries required microfracture procedures, and no NBA player could recover from the treatment and play. Oden did not reach his full playing potential and retired in just 105 games in a 7-year NBA tenure.
The story of Oden suggests that not all basketball players can endure the tough grind in the NBA.
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