Sports Out West

Greg Oden doesn’t mind riding LeBron James’ coattails

Greg Oden 1

Now that former Portland Trail Blazers No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden has signed with the Miami Heat, he’s not only looking forward to remaining healthy, but is already eyeing the NBA’s ultimate prize

The Heat are the best team in the NBA as the reigning back-to-back champs, and Oden knows what that means in terms of his chances to win a title in what could be a relatively short career if injuries continue to bother him. 

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinal has the quote from Oden (via ProBasketballtalk):

“As I told my friends, actually, as they told me, ‘If you take out the possibility of getting hurt again, what other choice is there?’ ” Oden said. “For me, other teams, it was good. But if I take out the possibility of getting hurt, why would I not play with the champs? And, as [friends] told me yesterday, ‘If LeBron decides to get another ring, I get one, too, now.”

Oden has only played in 82 career games since being drafted in 2007 by the Blazers, so it’s easy to see why his comments might not be well-received. Players like Adam Morrison, who appeared in just two playoff games in the Los Angeles Lakers’ last two title runs in 2009 and 2010 is a perfect example of that. But Morrison never quipped that he would win a ring if Kobe Bryant got another, either.  

He also didn’t have the injury history that Oden does nor the very real possibility that his body will fail him at any given moment. 

The former Ohio State star is a project for the Heat, and a low-risk acquisition. He’ll fill a great need for them if he can manage to get back onto the court and play a meaningful role. In his short career to this point, Oden has been a better-than-average rebounder at 11.9 boards per 36 minutes. The Heat were abysmal in that regard last season, ranking dead last in the NBA in total rebounds. Adding a big body like Oden could cement their place as the favorites to win it all in 2013-14. 

Again, the caveat is always health with Oden, and his comments on looking for a ring ought to be tempered back to just hitting the floor and playing basketball again. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.