HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Greg Oden‘s season is over in Portland.
It might be time for the whole experiment to come to an end.
The news came late Wednesday night via Twitter first (where else would it come from these days?). Another microfracture surgery scheduled for Friday morning, it ought to be the 13th for Trail Blazers fans, Oden and the organization that cheered his arrival four years ago like the championship banner was strictly a matter of when and not if.
We’re talking about a 22-year-old behemoth with three season-ending knee surgeries in four years people — THREE in FOUR YEARS. Let that marinate for a second and then realize what a devastating blow this has to be to all involved.
The recovery time for microfracture surgery is anywhere from six to 12 months. That means Oden’s next step might not come until January of 2012 or later. He’s done in Portland. And I know the organization will stick by him through his rehabilitation, as they should. But beyond that, they owe him nothing.
They’ve paid him close to $20 million for a grand total of 82 games of actual work. The rest of the time he’s spent in the training and operating room. That’s just the facts.
If you invest $20 million in a project in the business world and it goes awry, you don’t keep pouring money into the project. You cut your losses and move on to the next venture.
Oden will get another shot at this. If Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic all got second, third and even fourth chances, Oden will play basketball for someone in the NBA if he wants to. That much is up to him.
But the Trail Blazers have to move on. Trying to patch up the gentle giant and march him out there in those Rip City colors one more time is a scene we have no interest in viewing.
The organization has done this before. They’ve moved on from the pain and disappointment of a 7-foot savior (Sam Bowie) that couldn’t stay healthy long enough to come to their rescue. John Canzano of the Oregonian explains:
When the Blazers eventually gave up on Bowie all those years ago, and decided to move forward by trading the oft-injured center to New Jersey, they weren’t simply giving up. They were announcing that they were going to battle through the adversity and attempt to do what the rest of the high-level competition in the league does.
The player they got in return: Buck Williams.
Think on that today. Because it was Williams who became an anchor on a team that played in two NBA Finals. And the Blazers picked themselves up and moved forward instead of wallowing in their misery.
Maybe it’s fitting that the marketing people at One Center Court shifted the message earlier this week. Gone was the “Rise With Us,” stuff and in its place was a single, six-letter word that should be plastered across the minds of everyone in this city today.
It is this: Battle.
There are things worth fighting for in life. The love of your life. Your children. Your home. Men do courageous and righteous things in the name of honor – and they should. And so there is an opportunity just below the surface in this Oden mess.
I’m not sure that a Paul Allen-owned team will ever win a championship. But I’m convinced that what needs to be done here is obvious. Enough sitting around, waiting for Brandon Roy to be healthy and for Oden to make a miracle recovery.
It’s time to battle, not on the court, but in the front office via trade and free agency, where the Blazers have been a non-factor. It’s Cho-time. And it’s high time Allen proved that he’s willing to do what he needs to do to make the organization whole again.
This Oden thing is done. Close the door. But I’m hopeful the Blazers know what needs to be done next.
If the Blazers don’t know, we’ll help.
It’s time to move on.
For the sake of Oden, the organization and the fans, it’s time to move on.