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Sports Then and Now



Oden Tale Is Familiar One For Portland Trail Blazer Fans 3

Posted on November 20, 2010 by Dean Hybl

There hasn't been a lot for Portland Trail Blazer fans to smile about since the selection of Greg Oden in the 2007 NBA Draft.

The announcement this week that Portland Trail Blazer center Greg Oden is out for the year while undergoing microfracture surgery for the second time in four years is simply the equivalent of tossing more salt into an old wound for Trail Blazer fans.

When Portland management made the decision in the spring of 2007 to bypass Texas forward Kevin Durant and choose Ohio State center Greg Oden with the first pick in the NBA Draft, fans hoped the move would work out better than a similar decision 23 years earlier.

In 1984, the Trail Blazers passed on selecting a young guard from North Carolina with the second pick in the NBA Draft to instead shore up their frontcourt with Kentucky big man Sam Bowie.

Over the next five seasons, Bowie would average 10.5 points per contest while playing in a grand total of 139 games for the Trail Blazers. Conversely, during those same five seasons, Michael Jordan claimed three of what would ultimately be 10 NBA scoring titles while building the Chicago Bulls into a franchise that would claim six NBA titles in the 1990s.

The reasoning at the time was that Jordan played a similar position to that of Clyde Drexler, who Portland had drafted the previous season out of the University of Houston. Drexler would go on to make eight All-Star appearances with the Trail Blazers and twice lead the team into the NBA Championship Series (including once against Jordan’s Bulls), but would never lead Portland to the title.

Similarly, when Portland approached the 2007 NBA Draft they felt second year swingman Brandon Roy was comparable in position and ability to Durant and instead needed to use the draft choice to enhance their frontcourt. Ironically, it was Roy who had represented the team at the NBA Lottery when they had received the top selection. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

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