In November, Greg Oden said he wasn’t interested in making an NBA comeback.
Perhaps the former No. 1 pick’s plans have changed.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta, in a Q&A before the NCAA tournament:
Q. Have you had much contact recently with Greg Oden? How is he doing?
COACH MATTA: He’s doing great. It’s funny, I see Greg every day. He’s back in Columbus. Comes in, works out. I don’t know quite honestly if I’ve ever seen Greg as happy as he is right now in terms of everything is going great in his life. He’s made a lot of personal commitments to change. Having him around literally every single day and spending time with him, there’s no greater feeling. I’m excited for him.
Q. Coach, since you see Greg all the time, is your sense that he’s still got some NBA left in him? Is his career over?
COACH MATTA: I tell you what Greg is doing right now, he’s probably been six months of high-level conditioning, training in the weight room, working out on the court. Our coaches work him out. I think he’s right now trying to gauge how the body feels. There is a possibility he may make another run at it. He looks great. Probably about 280 pounds right now. I mean, quite honestly I haven’t seen Greg look this good since when he played for us back in the day at Ohio State. Like I said, his attitude is off the charts. He went through a lot. You look at Greg’s life, how difficult things have been. I know that he is a kid that never wanted to let people down. The injuries, you know, none of us can prevent those. I know there’s part of him that wishes that stuff couldn’t have happened. I still swear he was going to be one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA just from the year I was with him.
It’s good to hear Oden is doing better, because he was apparently in a very dark place.
But that alone won’t make a comeback easy.
Though Oden has resolved his legal issues, the domestic-violence charge still taints his reputation. Teams might take a chance on a better player with that history, but injuries have sapped his athleticism and he’s 27. It’s hard to see him playing well in the NBA again.
It’s too late for Oden to change his legacy, but if pursuing a comeback makes him happy – especially if he understands his long odds – he should go for it.