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Sergio Rodriguez heard the news about Greg Oden, but didn't want to believe it. Out for the season? The entire season?
Rodriguez wanted to hear that news from the Trail Blazers themselves, which is why he planned to place phone calls to Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and some of his Trail Blazers teammates as soon as he exited the Madrid Sports Palace, where he had played just eight minutes in Spain's 83-55 rout of Germany in the EuroBasket quarterfinals.
"I'm going to call now, then worry about that. But I don't know, I can't talk now," said Rodriguez, who had hoped to be lobbing alley-oop passes to the 7-foot Oden for the next seven months.
Now, he'll have to wait another year.
"Wow, that's bad news," Germany's Dirk Nowitzki said upon learning of Oden's setback. "I mean, I think he would be good for the league, and anytime a player gets hurt it's tough. He's going to be a good prospect for this league, and it's sad to hear."
The news of Oden's surgery traveled around the world relatively quickly, but it didn't reach the ears of Spain's Rudy Fernandez until ESPN.com let him know about it in the hallway leading to the players' locker room at Madrid's Palace Arena.
Fernandez's eyes shot wide open when he heard.
"Really? Greg Oden is a really good player. I look forward to playing with him one year from now," said Fernandez, whose rights were traded from Phoenix to Portland on draft night in late June. He plans to play one more year in Spain before going to the NBA, and now it appears Fernandez will be a rookie in Portland the same season in which Oden is a rookie in Portland.
The injury also means Fernandez and the rest of the Spanish team will have no chance of seeing Oden in Beijing next summer. Not that it was likely, but there was an outside chance, given his age and his size, that Oden could have been added to Team USA's roster for next summer's Olympics. Now, in addition to likely not being able to wear a Portland jersey until the fall of 2008, Oden won't get to wear a Team USA jersey for at least another three years.
-- Chris Sheridan in Madrid
|Kiki was on an earlier Blazers team that lost a promising big man to injury.|