Former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden has become more known for his laundry list of knee injuries than his play on the court since he was drafted first overall in 2007 (over 3-time scoring champ Kevin Durant). Outside of his injuries and one year college career at Ohio State, not much is none about the troubled 7-footer.
In a candid recent interview with Mark Titus from Grantland.com, Oden opens up about his life since he became a pro, including struggles with alcohol, depression and an offer to work in, wait for it, porn. Here are some key excerpts from the interview:
“For starters, Portland isn’t a great city to live in if you’re a young, African American male with a lot of money,” Greg explained with an embarrassed grin. “But that’s especially true if you don’t have anybody to guide you. Since I was hurt the entire season, I was on my own a bunch and didn’t have veteran teammates around to help me adapt to the NBA lifestyle.”
Even while adjusting to the change in culture, Greg successfully rehabbed his knee and played in 61 games the following season, averaging nine points and seven rebounds in 21.5 minutes. He wasn’t dominating like he had in high school and college, but he provided enough highlights to make Blazers fans feel optimistic about the team’s future. It seemed to me while watching Greg on TV that he would be able to recover from his surgery and in a few years’ time could be one of the premier big men in the NBA. But after longing for a veteran role model the previous season, Greg got exactly what he wanted in his second year, only the results were disastrous. That’s because it wasn’t an NBA veteran who took Greg under his wing in his second season — it was his veteran cousin from the Air Force who moved into Greg’s house in Portland.
“If you know anything about guys in the Air Force,” Greg explained, “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.”
The interview goes on to shed some light on Oden’s leaked nude pictures from 2010:
Before too many Unbreakable jokes could be made about Greg’s inability to stay healthy, however, even better material surfaced when nude pictures Greg had taken of himself in a mirror were leaked in January 2010.
After those pictures hit the Internet, Greg says he locked himself in his house for three straight days until Portland personnel knocked on his door and essentially dragged him to the gym for rehab. Going forward, he found it difficult to show his face in public, assuming everyone was thinking about the pictures and laughing to themselves.
“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.”
Titus also made a note that, “According to (Oden), numerous porn companies called his agent and made offers after they saw the pictures.”
The interview is an interesting read on a potential star that has since become an afterthought, if anything. Oden has said that he plans to spend the 2012-2013 season properly rehabbing his injuries before attempting to make a comeback for 2013-2014, which might be wise considering that he’s only played in 82 of a potential 394 games since he was drafted.
We wish Oden nothing but the best of luck in his rehab(s). You can read the full interview here.
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