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Oden can finally leave past behind in Miami

Two Views: Ex-Blazer has attitude, work ethic to succeed in the NBA after injuries


by: SUBMITTED - GrantGreg Oden is a member of the Miami Heat.

At 25, he is hopeful of restarting a National Basketball Association career that was shelved with a thud when, in December 2009, as a Portland Trail Blazer, he went down on the Rose Garden court, holding his knee and causing a lot of people to write him off forever.

I’m happy for Greg. He’s the one player I can look at and say he has really had a tough go with the injuries he has sustained without it being in his control. He is in a great place. If there is any team he can make a comeback with and be successful, it’s Miami.

The Heat are going to give him top doctors and a first-rate training staff. Pat Riley is there to oversee things, and Erik Spoelstra (a former Portland resident and starting guard for both Jesuit High School and the University of Portland) — who has done a wonderful job as coach — will be there to bring him along. They’ll expect a lot from him, but they’ll bring him along at a rate that will give him the best chance for success.

I worked with Greg during the summer of 2009. The Trail Blazers sent me to Columbus, Ohio, for personal workouts. I was there two to three weeks. It was just Greg and me.

Let me tell you something, it was the first time I’d banged around on anybody since I’d retired (after the 2005-06 season). After our workouts, I was super sore. I’d go to my aunt’s house and tell her to get the ice bags out.

That kid was big and strong, agile and quick. I was impressed with his work ethic. He just continually got after it, and it wore me out.

Greg’s a nice guy. He was a kid, though. When you look at him, you think he’s an old man, a veteran. But when I talked to him, it was, “Yes sir, no sir.” I was like, “Dude, I’m not a sir.” But he was very respectful. His attitude was great.

Standing and cheering

Miami is a great situation for him. In Portland, Greg was supposed to be the savior of the franchise, the final piece to a championship.

In Miami, he’ll be just another player to fit into a role. They’ll need him to give 10 to 15 minutes of big-man play, blocking shots, playing great defense. It will be, “If you can score, great, but don’t worry about it, because we have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.” The weight being lifted off Greg’s shoulders will be something he hasn’t yet experienced in his NBA career.

He deserves an opportunity to come back and try to make it in the league. I hope his body holds up this time. He has had some injuries that would seem to be career-ending. If he stays healthy, he’ll be able to make his mark in the league.

Fans in this city should embrace Greg and be nothing but happy for him and pull for him to make a successful comeback. He gave it all he could when he was in Portland.

When he comes back to face the Blazers at Moda Center during the Heat’s visit in December, I hope the fans welcome him with open arms. He deserves it. The dude has been through a lot of rough stuff. I’ll be there, standing and cheering with everyone else.

Brian Grant, 41, played 12 years in an NBA uniform. He was with the Blazers from 1997-2000 and with the Heat from 2000-04. Grant lives in West Linn, runs the Brian Grant Foundation and serves as an ambassador for the Blazers.