During my time in Portland several weeks ago for a
Because of the injury, I would describe the atmosphere around the Blazers -- a team of generally good vibes and positive karma -- as
"Greg practiced tonight," Taylor announced dryly to his boss,
It is not upon the Blazers now. But there is some unsettled staring toward the cosmos.
Oden's long-delayed debut couldn't have gone worse for him and his team Tuesday night in Los Angeles. He looked a little slow, then appeared to be limping, then never saw action in the second half as the Lakers coasted to a 96-76 victory. And on Wednesday, it was revealed that Oden had suffered a mid-lateral sprain of his right foot and will miss two-to-four weeks.
Here is what is not fair: Bringing up the specter of
Here is what is impossible not to do: Bring up the specter of Sam Bowie.
I do so with little enthusiasm. Bowie, for those of you unfamiliar with one of the unluckiest scenarios in NBA history, was famously drafted by Portland before
By most accounts, Oden's foot injury occurred early in the L.A. game, perhaps when he landed on the foot of Lakers guard
During my half-hour conversation with Oden before the season, the subject of his surgery rarely came up. What could be said? It was over and done. The one thing that became clear, though, was how badly he felt about it. "Chagrined" and "embarrassed" might be too strong, but Oden definitely felt as though he had let down a franchise that had invested its No. 1 pick in him. He was vaguely aware of the team's injury history, but understand that he was a decade from being born when Walton's first cry of "ouch" resounded through the Northwest. There is no reason for him, or the Blazers, to dwell on ancient history.
However, injuries have ripped holes in franchises, which is what happened in Walton-era Portland. Frustrations build. Fingers point. Recriminations fly. So let's make this clear:
There seems to be no reason in Portland to pull out pro sports' favorite pastime, "The Blame Game." True, there were predraft concerns about Oden's general health. "He just looks so
The selection of Oden over