Acknowledging the cumulative effects of the five knee surgeries he has undergone since 2007, Greg Oden nevertheless expressed excitement on Saturday as he told reporters in Indianapolis that he plans to head to Miami to begin basketball workouts this week.
"I got an old body," the 25-year-old center said. "I'm going to put it like that. I understand. My body is not going to be when I was 18, able to run all day and jump over people. I can't do that now. It's just not going to happen. My knees, the wear and tear of the surgeries, I understand that. But I'm going to play as hard as I can, and I'm going to try to jump over people, and I'm going to try to run all day. If my body lets me, I'll do it."
"I'm able to walk, and I'm running, jumping, I'm doing everything," he said. "It's going to be maintenance for the rest of my life. I tell people all the time, 'I got to warm up to warm up and then play.' I understand that now. This year was the big one for me, just being able to understand my body."
The Associated Press reports that Oden recently played "three consecutive games of full-court, 4-on-4"; Oden said that he plans to do "agility, jumping, and some court work, and a lot more cardio" in his early workouts with the Heat, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Oden, 25, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Blazers but has not played since Dec. 5, 2009.
After being released by the Blazers in March 2012, Oden has been rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries in February 2012, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee 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 Saturday 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.''