Greg Oden disappointed Portland fans on, off the court

Greg Oden

Greg Oden’s game never lived up to the expectations he encountered in Portland, but his play on the court isn’t what most fans should be disappointed with as the team moves past the Greg Oden era of Trail Blazers basketball.

In 2007, when the Blazers selected Oden with the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, they had officially left the Jail Blazers behind them, and the fans only wish was to bring in someone who was a great player with even better character.

As it turned out, Oden was not that guy.

Don’t get me wrong; Oden is no Jail Blazer. He was expected, though, to come in and be not just a great player, but a great person for whom you couldn’t help but cheer.

ESPN commercials, an appearance at the ESPY Awards and even a Backstreet Boys karaoke performance all gave fans reason to be excited—if he was anywhere as good on the court as he appeared to be in the community, things were going to get very good very fast.

But when injury after injury took the player away from the court, the person who gave fans such optimism toward the future began to disappear from the city that had welcomed him with a pep rally in 2007.

Grantland’s Mark Titus conducted an interview with the former No. 1 pick this week, and while the injury troubles were blatant, what stood out the most was just how separated he has been from the game of basketball and from the city of Portland the past few years.

If you want a recap of all the things that went wrong during Oden’s time in Portland, you can read Titus’ interview because this isn’t about Oden as a ball player.

The hatred that exists in cyberspace, on the airwaves and in the minds of many Blazermaniacs today shouldn’t be about the injuries. Oden’s injury troubles are unprecedented, but when it comes down to it, that’s part of the game.

However, the animosity toward Oden should have everything to do with the disappearing act that the he miraculously pulled off during his time in Rip City.

Seemingly never a part of the team that drafted him, Oden was absent from games and invisible in the media during a large part of his stint with the Blazers.

How many times did Oden reassure the fans that Portland is where he wanted to be moving forward? How many times did he address the media after his most recent setbacks this season?

Bad things have happened to Oden, and for that, he deserves respect as he gets his health and his life back in order.

His personality, however, is on him, and if he had managed to remain a part of the team that drafted him and involved in the community that once embraced him, he just might have a few more fans following him wherever he lands in the second chapter of his ever-intriguing NBA story.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Oregon Sports News.

Brooklyn bound: NBA officially approves relocation the Nets

Kobe Bryant and Deron Williams

Kobe Bryant and Deron WilliamsThe NBA’s Board of Governors agreed unanimously on Apr. 13 to approve the relocation of the New Jersey Nets across the Hudson River to Brooklyn, New York. The team, which will soon be named the Brooklyn Nets, will be playing out of a new arena named the Barclays Center. The franchise’s new home is located at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues and will be able to hold 18,200 fans for basketball games. The team will play out of the new venue starting in the 2012/13 season.

Mikhail Prokhorov, the principal owner of the Nets and Bruce Ratner, who is the developer of the Barclays Center and majority owner, released a joint statement to the press after the move was officially approved. They both thanked NBA Commissioner David Stern and the rest of the franchise owners in the league for enabling the move to become reality.

The statement said the Barclays Center offers the basketball team a modern and state-of-the-art venue to call home and the franchise is looking forward to entertaining its fans there. They added that they can’t wait until Sept. 28 when the arena will officially open for the next NBA season.

The Barclays Center will actually be the eighth venue that the franchise has played out of. In the past, the team has played at the Prudential Center, the Brendan Byrne Arena, Nassau County Coliseum, Island Garden, Long Island Arena, Rutgers Athletic Center, and the Teaneck Armory.

Stern said that the board of governors voted to formally approve the relocation of the team as well as the new franchise name. He claimed the Barclays Center to be a very impressive structure and said the building of it is right on schedule and it could even be completed earlier than expected. He said it might even be finished by August, but the official opening will still be held on Sept. 28. Stern added that luxury suite and ticket sales for games have reportedly been doing very well.

The Nets won’t make the playoffs in the current NBA season and their schedule will come to an end on April 26 when they travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors. However, the team won’t waste any time when it comes to transforming the look of the franchise. The name will be officially changed from the New Jersey Nets to the Brooklyn Nets on April 30 and the team’s new colors scheme and logo will be presented on April 28.

The franchise was founded back in 1967 and originally began play in the ABA (American Basketball Association) as the New Jersey Americans. They became the New York Nets in 1968 when moving to Long Island and in 1977 they moved back to New Jersey. They joined the NBA in 1976 when the league merged with the ABA. The club went to the NBA Finals in the 2001/02 season and again the following year. However, they’ve now endured five losing seasons in a row. Perhaps their luck will change at their brand new home.

Top 5 players in the NBA: Where’s Kobe Bryant?

Kobe Bryant

Is Kobe Bryant one of the top five players currently in the NBA? To be a top five player in the NBA means that if the league was reset and everyone became available in some sort of draft you would be one of the first five selected.  The top five players are someone with whom a franchise would be willing to build their future around.  Someone with a premier basketball skill set and IQ.  Someone with the ability to make those around him better.  With that said, here are the top five players in the NBA.

5.  Dwight Howard:  At 6-11 265 lbs Howard is the best Center in the NBA today.  The only problem with that is the fact that the age of the dominant big man is over.  Because of that, Howard’s numbers which are nice, should be astronomical.  He should be averaging 30 and 20 per game but in 2012 Howard is averaging 20.9 PPG, 14.5 RPB and 2.1 blocks.  Nevertheless Howard rounds out the bottom of this list.  He is more than capable of being the cornerstone of any NBA franchise.  With the right pieces around him he would be an integral part of a championship team.

4. Kobe Bryant:  Ranking Kobe is always interesting.  With Bryant you have a 6-6 guard capable of getting you 30 a night.  The problem with Kobe is that he shoots entirely too much to get that 30.  He’s a gunslinger; the Brett Favre of the NBA.  He’s spectacular at the end of the day but it ‘s not always pretty getting there.  Case in point, this season Kobe is the NBA scoring leader with 28.2 PPG but he’s shooting .425 from the floor.  It’s one of the worst shooting seasons in his 15 year career.  What Bryant does have is killer instinct.  He’s a fierce competitor and he wants the ball in the clutch no matter how many shots he’s missed that game.  And for that reason, any team in the NBA would love to have this guy.

 3.  LeBron James:  At 6-8 250 lbs James is by far the most gifted athlete in the NBA.  He’s bigger, stronger, and faster than the competition.  This season James is averaging 26.5 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 8.2RPG.  James takes a lot of criticism for often deferring to lesser capable teammates late in games.  The unfortunate thing for James is that where deferral often worked for Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in clutch moments, both former players knew when it was time for them to close out a game and when to defer.  LeBron has the ability to that as well, he just needs to work on the decision-making aspect of it; is it time for me to score or pass?  Despite all the criticism James is again putting up MVP like numbers and there isn’t a team in the NBA who wouldn’t take him if given the opportunity.  Yes that includes
the Cleveland Cavaliers.

2.  Derrick Rose:  One of Rose’s greatest strengths is the relentless passion with which he plays.  At 6-3, 190 lbs, Rose is the most athletic point guard in the NBA.  With cat-like quickness and off the chart jumping ability, Derrick Rose can score at will as well as come out of nowhere to get a key block or rebound.  This season Rose is averaging 22.8 PPG, 8.0 APG, and 3.5 RPG.  The problem with Rose is that he plays with reckless abandon.  He’s a lot like Dwayne Wade in that sense and this season it’s costing him significant playing time.  Rose has had a series of nagging injuries that have forced him to sit out 19 games.  Despite the missed time, the Bulls have the best record in the NBA.  Where that fact under values Rose’s contributions, every GM in the league would love to have No. 1 running point on their roster.

1.  Kevin Durant:  If Paul Pierce is The Truth then Kevin Durant is The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth.  This guy is phenomenal in every sense of the term when it comes to basketball.  At 6-9, 235 lbs, Durant is an explosive forward.  Averaging 27.7 PPG, 3.5 APG and 8.1 RPG, Durant is the foundation of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise.  Like Derrick Rose, Durant’s value is under appreciated but not because of his team’s success without him.  Durant plays alongside Russell Westbrook and the together they form the most lethal scoring tandem in the NBA.  Additionally, Durant plays in a small market so he doesn’t get the PR runs of a Bryant, James, or Rose.  But make no mistake about it, if the NBA was dissolved today and every player went into a pool for a new league, Durant would be the first one chosen; hand down

Do you agree or disagree with this Top 5?  If you disagree, who is in your Top 5?

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