10 Things You Didn’t Know About Greg Oden
Grantland writer Mark Titus has just scored the holy grail of basketball interviews. Titus tracked down reclusive, former No.1 pick Greg Oden for a rare look at his injury-plagued career, his dong pic controversy, and his future in the Association. The thing is a monster, but I read it from top to bottom (all 3,500 words). Below, I’ve highlighted 10 Oden facts that might surprise you. Take a look.
1. He doesn’t like attention. After a band of fans besieged him for autographs at dinner, Greg shook his head and said: “I’m just a person. I guess I didn’t really mind it when I was at Ohio State and even right after I was drafted, but it just seems so fake now. Like, why are you bothering me at dinner for a picture when I’m nothing now?”
2. Just before arriving Ohio State, where he would go on to dominate, Oden had a wrist injury that was reported as a basketball-related injury. What really happened? Says Titus: “He[Oden] damaged ligaments defending himself in a fight with his hotheaded younger brother, Anthony.”
3. Oden became an alcoholic after his cousin from the Air Force moved into his house in Portland. “If you know anything about guys in the Air Force,” Greg explained to Titus, “it’s that they drink a ton. My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I’d drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I’d drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic.”
4. And how did his a photo of his pickle hit the web? “I wish it wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “But I’m not going to apologize for it. After all, I’m human and there are worse things that 21-year-olds could do. I just got caught up with women throwing themselves at me. When a girl sends me 100 pictures, I have to send something back every now and then. I’m not an asshole.”
5. He got offered several porn gigs. Titus writes, “According to him, numerous porn companies called his agent and made offers after they saw the pictures.”
6. Oden sought the help of sports psychologist George Carr to help him deal with personal issues, particularly after those dong pics surfaced.
7. He lost his Air Force cousin to cancer.
8. After his second major injury, Oden felt pressured to return to basketball. He wouldn’t say if the Blazers pressured him, though. Titus notes that the pressure probably stemmed from a combination of factors, namely the Blazers, their doctors, Oden’s own guilt for missing so many games. Or all three.
9. OK, this one’s a given. Greg says it hurts to see his draft mate Kevin Durant getting so many accolades. “I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t suck to see Durant doing so well,” he said. “Only because every time he had a good game in those first few years, I knew I was going to get a bunch of crap from all of my haters. But that doesn’t mean I dislike him as a person or anything like that. He’s a good guy and one of the three best players in the league right now. The only reason it hurts to watch him play is because I know that if I got the chance to show what I’ve got, I could be making All-Star teams like he and Horford are, too.
10. Here’s the one I wasn’t expecting: Greg Oden is plotting an NBA comeback. Here’s Titus again: “Right now, his plan is to take off the entire 2012-13 season, move back to Columbus, take all the time he needs to rehab his knee back to full strength, and continue working toward the degree that he abandoned after one year at Ohio State. Once he feels ready, he plans to sign with an NBA team in 2013 and (hopefully) string together a few years of injury-free basketball.”
Go read the entire article on Grantland.