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Oden's injury big blow for the Blazers

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

It was heartbreak hotel for fans in Portland when word came out that top draft pick Greg Oden will likely miss the entire 2007-08 season. It was also a blow to the NBA as the potential rivalry between Oden and Kevin Durant took a back seat.

That was not the news Portland expected to hear.

When will we see the real Greg Oden? Talk about a kid who has had some tough breaks physically. You have to look at Oden's career to understand his maturity and the ability to overcome adversity after injuries. At Ohio State, he came in with the reputation of a superstar but was sidelined early on after wrist surgery.

I don't think we ever saw the genuine superstar he is capable of being. He was never really at 100 percent. Sure, he showed flashes of brilliance, as well as guts and heart. Last season with the Buckeyes, he averaged 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds. Imagine if he was at full strength without any injury issues? He could have been a truly dominant center. As is, he helped his young squad make it to the championship game.

Now he has the same dilemma at Portland, an injury of extreme concern, but this seems a lot worse. Sitting out a whole season is a major setback. The Blazers lose out on a lot of money, the fans, who were excited, are now disappointed. Most of all, it hurts Oden.

The young man is a special kid, with great heart. He has the courage to come back at a high level. He is the kind of person you have to root for. For those fans who are critical of him because of the money he is getting, he is a solid person who is about more than the dollar signs.

In meeting Oden, I have found him to be a quality young person. I hope he can come back in the future and live up to the lofty expectations laid on him.

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