I know this sounds strange, but Greg Oden's season-ending injury
isn't just a heaping helping of poop gumbo for the Portland Trailblazers. It's a clear sign from God that the Boston Celtics' Curse
has been lifted.
Think about it. Had the Celtics won the draft lottery and gotten the number one pick -- as they'd hoped, wanted, and tanked for -- Danny Ainge would have selected Oden and kept everything else pretty much the same. Which would have meant that, once Oden's knee spontaneously disintegrated, the Celtics would have fielded the same craptastic team that won only 24 games and had an 18-game losing streak last season. That would have been as catastrophic to the Celtics and their fans as Oden's health has been to Oden's career.
Speaking of which, isn't it ironic that the Trailblazers won the draft lottery and selected the one player that, while it's probably still too early to tell for sure, is starting to look like the new century's Bill Walton, the team's last number one overall pick? Seriously. Like Oden, Walton had unlimited potential and could have become one of the greatest centers ever, but injury after strange injury limited him to five and a half season's worth of games over a 10-year career. In Walton's first two seasons alone, he broke his nose, foot, wrist, and leg. He once broke his foot (for the umpteenth time) while riding an exercise bike -- which is better than breaking your knee sitting on a couch, but still
. Even in his great MVP season of 1977-78, he played only 58 games due to injury (imagine how the blogosphere would erupt if something like that happened today).
Although, truth be told, Oden's case is even worse than Walton's. At least Big Bill had four reasonably healthy seasons at UCLA, during which he was one of the best college players of all time
. Oden didn't have a single healthy season at Ohio State; he had wrist surgery before his freshman year even started. He still played very well for the Buckeyes (15.7 PPG and 9.6 RPG), but certainly not great (which everyone blamed on the fact that he wasn't fully recovered from his wrist injury). Then he missed most of the summer league because he had his tonsils out, and now he's not even going to play his rookie season because of microfracture surgery on his knee. And that kind of surgery means that he might
not ever be as good as he possibly could have been. The final book on Oden is far from written, but...wow.
The poor Trailblazers sure have had some rotten luck over the years. You can put this tragedy right up there with their failure to defend the title in '78 (thanks, of course, to a Walton injury), drafting Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan in the '84 draft, Clyde Drexler's evisceration (by Jordan) in the '92 Finals, and of course the infamous 2000 Western Conference Finals meltdown.
Everybody's talking about how fortunate the Supersonics are for getting Durant instead of Oden. And they are. But the Celtics are the real winners here. Instead of a relatively unproven, seemingly injury-prone center with a huge question mark hanging ominously over his career, they dealt for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Which, as I pointed out, means the curse is officially over. If it wasn't, the Celtics would have won the lottery, selected Oden, and everybody would be comparing this to Boston's many doomed draft picks (Len Bias, Michael Smith, Acie Earl, etc.). I'm telling you, Red Auerbach's ghost is behind this. He sacrificed himself to break the jinx. I will always believe that.
As a final note, Evil Ted just came by my cube and said: "I hope you're writing about Greg Oden." After I told him I was, he said, "Good. Tell everybody we were right
. That dude's 40 years old if he's a day. Microfracture surgery at 19? Yeah, right. The man is middle-aged, and this is what happens to middle-aged men who play professional basketball."
Labels: Bill Walton, Boston Celtics, curses, Greg Oden, Keven Garnett, Kevin Durant, Len Bias, Portland Trailblazers, Ray Allen, Red Auerbach, Seattle Supersonics