Oden had not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, when he suffered a broken patella in his left knee as a member of the Blazers. Wednesday marked his first regular season action in 1,502 days, and he had been on the inactive list for the entire 2013-14 season as he rehabilitated from a series of knee injuries.
With Washington leading 56-26 midway through the second quarter, Oden made his first appearance of the season as the Wizards shot free throws. On Miami's ensuing possession, Dwyane Wade drove baseline and threw up a running lay-up that missed. Oden came down with the offensive rebound and dunked home the second-chance opportunity with two hands.
He finished with six points (on 2-for-3 shooting) and two rebounds off the bench in Miami's 114-97 loss to Washington.
"I wish we could have won," Oden said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The 25-year-old seven-footer was activated earlier Wednesday after the Heat traded seldom-used center Joel Anthony to the Celtics in a three-team trade that brought Warriors guard Toney Douglas to the Heat. Chris “Birdman” Andersen was also unavailable on Wednesday because of a knee injury.
“I’m happy I’m able to walk off this court,” Oden told Sun Sports after his preseason debut. “I’m able to play another day.”
Oden was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State, selected one spot ahead of Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant. He appeared in 82 games for the Blazers over five years before he was released in 2012 due to a series of knee injuries. Oden signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Heat in August. He holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
After being released by the Blazers in March 2012, Oden has been rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012 and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Prior to that round of surgeries, Oden also had left knee surgery in 2009 after fracturing his patella, microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 to address a “defect” that occurred during non-contact rehabilitation work, and a microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007. Oden also reportedly underwent Orthokine injections on both knees back in May 2012 and admitted to problems with alcohol during his time with the Blazers.
He told reporters in August that he had “some dark times” in Portland but that he was looking forward to a new chapter in Miami. “After three years of being out, I’m just going to go out and do what I can,” Oden said, according to the Associated Press. “If somehow (my body) says no, then it says no. But for me, I’m not even worried about that. Just go play and not even think about that. I’ve signed on the dotted line, put it like that. I’ve got a contract. As y’all can see this smile, I’ve got a contract. I’m excited.”