We Can Rebuild Him

And suddenly the numbers game feels completely inconsequential now. To be perfectly honest, I don't feel like I have a ton to add to what's already been said, but I've felt the need all day long to share my thoughts here, to comfort and be comforted. It feels similar to the impulse experienced by people in a small town who come together at the scene of a bad accident, congregating without any definite purpose, not necessarily to contribute anything tangible, but just to make their presences felt and to feel the camaraderie of rest of the community.

Abbott's coverage all day long has been phenomenal, as usual, from putting things into perspective, to breaking down the procedure. I'm sure tomorrow he'll continue to stay on top of things. I'm very impressed with how well Abbott, as a Blazers fan, seems to be handling the news, particularly in keeping Oden's interests in the foreground. Similarly, Blazer's Edge has an admirable stoicism that I'm not sure I'd be capable of if I were in their position. Even as a general NBA fan without any personal connection to the Portland franchise, the news has bummed me out quite a bit. I know Henry's right that what we're feeling can't be remotely comparable to what be Greg must be going through, but I still think we can afford ourselves a certain amount of self-pity, as long as we keep that reality in mind.

Unlike Shoals, the idea that "It could have been worse: it could have bee Durant" doesn't really console me. I realize that the wild uncertainty of Durant is tantalizing, but I disagree about how Oden is destined to become a conventional big man. It might have taken some time to adjust to playing against other physically gifted 7-footers, but, if he could have wrecked terror on the defensive end anywhere near the extent to which he imposed himself on the collegiate game, he would have been thrilling to watch this year. Furthermore, I completely agree with Stop Mike Lupica (commenting on the Shoals post) that being robbed of the "Oden vs. Durant" debate definitely hurts. Unlike the LeBron vs. Melo connection, this one has been completely legitimate thus far and could have become one of those telling "Stones vs. Beatles"-type dichotomies in which a person's stance instantly tells you something about that individual. Even if Oden can ever come back 100%, the fact that they're not entering together has permanently altered the way that rivalry will develop.

On the other hand, maybe the fact that the Durant/Oden link has been momentarily severed will make the mailed-in stories like Simmons' post today a little rarer. I know Simmons-bashing has become an art form in Blogburgh -- a tradition we tend to try to avoid when possible -- but today's article was pretty unforgivable. First of all, even if it's your editors who come up with the titles of links to your articles, you can't start your article by saying "[Blazers' fans] don't deserve the 'Bowie 2.0' jokes," and have the link title on the front page be "Bowie Knife." Completely uncool. This situation is so unlike Bowie's for a laundry list of reasons that I don't think anyone needs to even bother arguing it. Additionally, the fact that this happened in no way validates anyone who argued that Durant should be the number 1 pick. There were and are plenty of legitimate points for Durant that don't need to rely on revisionist history bullshit. If Durant, god forbid, has a career-ending injury three years from now, no one is going to go back and question Sam Presti's decision-making. Completely unfair. It's also painfully obvious that Simmons had his anecdote about Oden walking like a 40-year-old completely written in his head weeks before ever going to the ESPYs. Have you seen how fluidly this guy moves on a basketball court? He runs the floor like a guard. Finally, the crap about Oden being a PR-driven pick is beyond absurd. Durant is the bigger marketing draw by far. Sure, Oden is goofy, has a blog, and is super charismatic, but it's not like Durant isn't a straight-laced dude who's going to sell a shit-ton of shoes, video games, and seats wherever he goes.

Because this has been kind of a downer of a day, we would like to end on an upbeat note. The first thing to keep in mind, as Ty pointed out, is that Portland is undoubtedly in the right hands. Pritchard and Nate handled the press conference beautifully, saying all the right things and appearing completely sincere. It's been said in many places elsewhere, but there are plenty of great pieces on that team that have lots of room to grow. The future of Portland definitely still looks bright from my perspective. Most importantly, as microfracture surgeries go, so far this does sound like it was as good as it could possibly be. I hope Oden spends a lot of time watching Amare, smiling. I know I'm going to need to.

1 comment:

Trey Jones said...

I actually agreed with Simmons' post. There were many on-court reasons why Durant should have been number 1, but the fact that Oden had major wrist surgery and a back problem before the draft should have been a definite reason.

This is Bowie 2.0 because once again the Blazers went by conventional wisdom in picking a 7-footer (with a history of injuries) over a player everyone knew was a considerably better player.

If it was determined that Oden only had 3 years to live, Portland still would have taken him. The lesson, always take the better player.