Oden Is Doing It Big
Greg Oden saw a highlight of Kevin Durant's game-winning three-pointer in Atlanta last Friday and immediately sent him a text message.
"I said, 'I see you, dawg. Doing it big!' " Oden said with a big grin last Saturday.
Durant, the early front-runner for rookie of the year, really did elevate his game against the Hawks, as he drained an off-balanced three-pointer to give Seattle its second win of the season. Oden was supposed to challenge Durant this season as the league's best rookie before the No. 1 pick was sidelined by season-ending microfracture surgery in September. But he is doing it big, too - except Oden is "doing it" in the weight room, not on the court.
I read reports that Oden had added almost 30 pounds of muscle - all in the upper body - since this summer, but when I talked to him last weekend, I couldn't believe how much he has really bulked up. First, I noticed that his face was a little puffier. Then, I saw his chiseled arms. He looked like Bill Bixby morphing into Lou Ferrigno (that's an Incredible Hulk reference for you young kids). I felt sorry for his shirt.
There was no doubt how Oden has been spending his idle time away from basketball. "Something I try to do is lift everyday - but not get fat," said Oden, who now weighs 282 pounds and hit the weights before the Trail Blazers lost to Washington.
Oden is adding muscle and not fat - he's not a post-lockout Shawn Kemp; he reportedly has the same body-fat percentage as the day he was drafted. But the concern is that Oden is placing unnecessary stress on his surgically repaired right knee.
Oden recently shed his crutches, but he still can't run or do any lower body training. He was just given permission to shoot free throws a few days ago. The scary part for Oden is that he has only been lifting for about five months (remember, he couldn't lift during college because he was recovering from a right wrist injury). Imagine what he'll look like in April at this pace.
Portland Coach Nate McMillan doesn't want to, which is why he is encouraging his big man not to get too big. McMillan wants Oden to be more like David Robinson, a sleek, athletic center. "He did pick up some pounds, but he hasn't been able to move," McMillan said. "That is something we'll tone down and we'll talk about where we want him to be next year."
Oden said he would lighten up on the iron and focus more on being tone than swollen.
As far as this season, Oden is scouting opposing big men and picking up tools he plans on using when he finally makes his debut. On the Blazers' disappointing four-game trip last week, he studied reigning defensive player of the year Marcus Camby in Denver, Samuel Dalembert in Philadelphia, Brendan Haywood in Washington and Emeka Okafor in Charlotte.
He said he is having a difficult time being a spectator instead of a participant this season. "It [stinks]," Oden said. "I wish I was out there."
Oden said he is being treated "like a regular rookie." Oden said the veterans make him fetch laundry and make sure he doesn't eat first. Real cruel stuff. (The Blazers are clearly so young, they don't know how to haze). "They are not that bad from the stories I've heard," Oden said.
Fellow rookies Josh McRoberts and Taurean Green have it much worse, Oden said, adding that the veterans aren't taking it easy on him because he's injured. It's "because I'm the No. 1 pick," he said.
Nah, it might be because he's so huge.
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