The pressures that come with being a No. 1 overall NBA pick.
Having bad knees.
People believing that this pick is transcendent, that it's going to turn the franchise around.
Those are just a few things that former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden and current New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson have in common.
Oden opened up about his difficult time in Portland on Thursday’s episode of the ‘Scal and Pals’ podcast with Brian Scalabrine and Steve Ceruti.
Scalabrine wanted to know the truth about Oden’s knees: Were there any signs of knee troubles before the Trail Blazer selected him as the No. 1 pick in 2007?
"No." According to Oden, the knee problems started after the team was trying its best to fix a length difference in his legs.
I never had any knee issues before – after Summer League and then out of nowhere it spiraled after that, and it was just thing after thing. Nothing that I could do to control it… When I look back at it that summer, I had like a leg length differential, so when I first got into the league, I got some new orthotics that fixed that all the way when my whole entire growing up and playing career I was so used that leg length, my little length on my right side… That was comfortable for me. – Former Trail Blazers big man Greg Oden
Oden added, “I got those orthotics and then two days later, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t even put jeans on.”
The now 31-year-old believes that by fixing the length differential in his legs he had to overcompensate and thus the effects of the orthotics are were all the knee problems began.
By trying to do what the best for Oden, did those decisions actually expedite his early retirement in 2016?
Another big man, who has been dealing with his own knee issues, is No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
Williamson underwent surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on October 21st. He first returned to full practices the first week of January.
Oden offered up this piece of advice to the young fella:
“Get as much information about your own body as possible, figure out what works for you, work with the doctors and the trainers to figure out what’s going to be the best thing for you instead of just going with the first option,” Oden said.
"Learn as much as you can about your own body" - Greg Oden's advice to @Zionwilliamson— Scal and Pals (@ScalAndPals) January 16, 2020
Oden also discussed what kind of pressure comes along with being the top pick.
I remember being drafted and I was the first one to do all the interviews and then I was the last one to leave the arena from all the interviews [on draft night]. And then, I had an hour to get my stuff together and I was on a plane to Portland and I was surprised with a parade and I was like – ‘oh shoot, like this is real.’ It looked like the whole city showed out for it. So, I mean, instantly it’s a lot of pressure. You feel like you’re going to let a lot of people down or you see a lot of people looking up to you like you’re going to change that city for the better – I think that’s the definition of pressure, actually. -- Greg Oden on Scal and Pals
The former Blazer says he wishes all the best for Zion after meeting him last summer.
The original timetable for Williamson’s injury was six to eight weeks. His now targeted return date of January 22nd would be a little more than 13 weeks from the surgery.
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