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Who Am I?

Too many weird things are happening and I’m beginning to slowly lose my brain because of them. A.I. crying during a press conference? Bernard Berrian getting gobbled up by the Minnesota Po for driving 104 mph, just two days after Adrian Peterson got stopped for going 109? The Raiders beat the Steelers? USC football loses FOUR TIMES in a single season? Tiger Woods isn’t a robot? I don’t understand life anymore.

Every day feels like Rick Neuheisel just called a pointless timeout to send me a message.

(I kid, I kid.)

So in order to regain some sanity, or perhaps help you lose a bit more of yours, I figured it would be fun to play a little game I call “Who Am I?” It’s easy. I’ll describe a player, team or circumstance and you try to guess the answer.

(Of course, since this is a column and we are not playing face-to-face, I have to take the fun out of it by giving you the answers at the end.)

Let’s begin…

Who Am I?

I play/ played professional basketball for a living. I also played for a major midwestern NCAA program before going onto “play” in the NBA. The peculiar thing about me, is that while I was heralded as a potential star, prior to the draft, there was an even more hyped player (and eventual Hall of Famer), who I was chosen over.

Still, my team drafted for need and they needed a big man. What can I say?

Unfortunately what they got was a broke down old man. Literally.

While with the Blazers (Whoops,  looks like I gave a little too much info, much like Megan Fox describing just about anything about her personal life.) I didn’t play much, you know, because it’s tough to play on broken legs and torn ligaments. And they were ALWAYS BROKEN OR TORN. True story, Pete Rose actually wagered on my potential leg injuries. Kind of funny when you think about it. Right Bud Selig? Ahhh, he knows!

The sad thing is, when I found the time to see the court on a rare occasion, I was semi productive. It’s true. I have averaged about ten points and eight rebounds per game. What? That’s not good enough for you? Sheesh.

Meanwhile the aforementioned player drafted immediately behind me, was too busy transforming the art of scoring to notice. That’s a tough pill to swallow for any fan base. Scoring sells. Rebounding, passing and defense doesn’t. Unless you are Bill Russell anyway.

“Maybe a little more dynamic? I’m a chameleon. Still think the big man can’t sell? (Points left…)”

Ok, time to come clean. This charade has gone on long enough.

By now you have probably realized that we aren’t playing a guessing game. Despite what the title photo would lead you to believe, the player in question isn’t Sam Bowie. It’s clearly Greg Oden.

He's a chameleon alright. He hides from action.

Only, it actually isn’t all that clear. The two Blazer bigs are headed down eerily similar paths. Over his first four seasons, Bowie’s per-game points and rebound averages are right about at the level of Oden’s. Through three seasons (I’m including ’09-10, since Oden’s season is likely done) he has played a grand total of 81 games. In other words, through three seasons, Oden hasn’t even played a full season.


A microfracture surgery and fractured patella later, finds Portland fans wondering if it is conceivable to think that Bowie 2.0 can end up any more dependable than the first model. The kinks don’t seem to be worked out yet.

If anything, version 2.0 is proving to be even less dependable. Through his only four seasons with the Trail Blazers, Bowie averaged 34.75 games played per season (139 total).

Oden, through three, is averaging only 27 games per year. Yikes. Anyone know a good mechanic in the northwest?

It doesn’t help that Bowie’s haunter (Michael Jordan) ended up changing the way fans viewed the NBA, becoming a premium pitch-man and is widely viewed as the greatest ever. It also doesn’t help that Oden’s raven (Kevin Durant) is also changing the way fans view the NBA, while scoring just over 28 points per game in only his third season and will likely someday become a Hall of Famer himself.

(I realize I just projected a third-year pro to make the Hall of Fame. Allow me to douse myself with a bucket of ice water for a moment…)

(Soaking wet…)

(Yup, I still feel comfortable with that projection. Durant is really, really good.)

But it does help that as of this writing, when you search for “Sam Bowie” on Google images, Oden is the 13th and 14th image found. Helps our comparison anyway.

Even more telling is the fact that everyone whom I have asked some version of the, “Hey what do you think about Bowie 2.0?” question, has without missing a beat responded, “Oh, Oden? Yeah, this is getting sad.”

So is the writing already on the wall for the former Buckeye? I don’t know, but it sure looks like it from my angle. If anything, his latest injury tour is severely damping the expectations Portland fans have for Mr. Sophisticated.

Oden is playing with house money from here on out. Pretty good, considering he is currently hardwood-bankrupt.

Who knows if there is a ceiling for the youngest old man in the NBA, but there certainly is a cellar. And Portland should know it well. After all, Sam Bowie is still living in it.

  1. Dan Miller
    December 7, 2009 at 5:40 PM

    Personal bias aside, I think it’s a little too early to write off a guy who’s 21. Especially one who missed his entire first NBA season due to microfracture surgery. Big men are known to develop slowly, and when you take into account his age and the time he’s missed due to injury, it’s not surprising.

  2. Ben Bates
    December 7, 2009 at 6:34 PM

    The question isn’t whether or not Oden can be good or even just productive. Bowie was productive himself over the duration of his ten-year career. The question is whether Oden can abstain from injury long enough to actually develop. Up to this point he has not.

    And you cannot put your bias aside, you Buckeye maniac you. I still somehow feel the soft spot in my heart jump every time Reggie Bush turns on the jets wide, scrambling to an 11-yard TD (pointless swan-dive into the end zone included). So, like twice in his entire career. Still, it makes me strangely optimistic, even though the realistic analyst in me knows that as good as the hybrid was at SC, his chances at becoming an excellent NFL running back are about as good as Tebow’s.

  3. ritzpolo22
    December 9, 2009 at 7:54 AM

    I implore you, please halt all comments on various Blazers’ durability issues until after the career of Blake Griffin has been completed or the Basketball gods will smite you (and I will cry).

  4. Ben Bates
    December 9, 2009 at 5:52 PM

    Ritz, you’re absolutely right. I withdraw my comment. Hell, I might even withdraw my column if it helps save Blake.

  5. wstuchell
    December 10, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    It’s too late Ben. He was doomed the moment the Clippers drafted him. You just put the nail in the coffin. I hope you’re happy now.

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