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Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The Status of Greg Oden


Yesterday, in a workout led by Blazer assistant Dean Demopoulos, Greg Oden worked out against Channing Frye. It was Oden's first such full-contact workout, against NBA competition, since his microfracture knee surgery.

Stamina was, predictably, a problem. 

But otherwise all reports are excellent. 

The Oregonian has all kinds of Oden coverage this week, online and off. Jason Quick writes of the workout:

Oden's most impressive stretch came early in the workout, when Demopoulos instructed Frye to lob passes near the rim as Oden filled the lane.

"Everything is a dunk, Greg!" Demopoulos shouted. "Everything is a dunk!"

Oden obliged, catching the passes in midair and finishing with mostly soft one-handed dunks. Occasionally, however, he unleashed a violent two-handed dunk, which raised the eyebrows of Demopoulos, Frye and [assistant GM Tom] Penn.

"That's some nasty stuff," Penn said. "And we're not even going full speed."

Midway through the workout, Oden had to be prodded more and more. He often rested his hands on his knees, and several times had to be reminded where to go, all while the superbly conditioned Frye dashed and darted around the court.

On one occasion Frye bee-lined toward the basket and was met by an outstretched Oden. The collision resulted in the 6-11, 245-pound Frye barreling backward while Oden held his ground. "That's a big boy, man," Frye said, smiling and shaking his head.

There is also accompanying video

Much has been made of the muscle Oden has added to his frame -- his current weight is something of a secret -- but there is all kinds of evidence that he will enter the NBA as one of the biggest, heaviest, and strongest players in the League.

Because of that, in another story by Quick, we learn that Nate McMillan says he will never again play competitive basketball.

The incident happened in Hawaii, where Nate McMillan thought assistant coach Maurice Lucas wasn't hitting Oden hard enough in a workout, so McMillan jumped in.

"So I start hitting (Oden), but then he hits me back. And you know how when you hit something and everything inside of you is shaking? Well, that's what is happening here. I hit him, and then he hits me and everything is shaking.''

McMillan continues to play Oden one-on-one, trying to make Oden move his feet on defense. After about an hour of playing, McMillan wants to hammer home his point. He devises a "box drill," which emphasizes defensive slides.

Oden, as he recalls, understood the drill when McMillan told him the first time.

"I said 'Coach, I can do it','' Oden said. "But he was like 'Let me show you how to do it, you are not doing it right' ... and I was like 'Coach, let me do it' ...''

McMillan, still exhausted from the constant pounding from Oden, took his first step in demonstrating the drill ... and BAM!

Down goes McMillan.

"It was like somebody shot me,'' McMillan said. "I yell and hit the floor and I couldn't get up.''

It was weeks of acupuncture, rest, and painkillers before McMillan could move normally again. He now swears he will never play competitive basketball again. Quick continues the story:

Oden said he vividly remembers McMillan giving him body shots as he tried to post up in their workouts.

"He was trying to make a point by saying 'These are how the other guys are going to come at you' ... and I was like, 'OK, well this is how I'm going to come back at them -- even stronger','' Oden said. "Coach is trying to make me better, so you know, what if he is going to sit there and push on me? I'm not going to sit there and practice being soft, I'm going to come back just as hard as I would in a real game.''