Oden open to playing next season, admits he didn't have season he expected

Oden open to playing next season, admits he didn't have season he expected
June 11, 2014, 2:15 pm

Did the right players make the All-NBA teams?

Miami Heat center Greg Oden (right) holds up the conference championship trophy after defeating the Indiana Pacers in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena.

(USA Today Sports Images)

MIAMI – It’s been quite some ride for Miami Heat center Greg Oden, a ride with its ups and downs. He has a golden opportunity to win a championship. A few years ago he would have never envisioned such an accomplishment would be possible.

This NBA Finals experience has been full of memories he says he’ll cherish for a lifetime. There’s no taking this joy away from him. This would qualify as part of the “up” times. He’s as healthy as he’s been in years thanks to the Heat medical staff and it has got him thinking he can realistically prolong his career.

“Yeah, I’m sure I’m playing again next year but honestly I haven’t even gave it much thought,” Oden told CSNNW.com Wednesday after practice. “I’m trying to concentrate on this and getting this ring first and after that, that’s part of the thought process. My body feels good. I can still play. I’ll be alright.”

Oden, 26, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The “down” side of this bounce-back season has been the lack of playing time he’s received throughout the course of the season. With more teams playing a brand of small-ball, Oden has been the odd man out most nights.

The No.1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft says as candid as can be that he’s happy with his situation, but as far as the way he’s been used, it was a disappointment.

“It wasn’t what I was hoping it would be,” the big man said. “I would have definitely liked to have played more but you know, everything that I’ve been through, I’m just happy to be out there and being on a team. Last year I wasn’t and this year I’m on a team that possibly can win the championship. I’m happy in that, but personally, playing wise, I’m not as happy as I want to be.”

The Heat are coming off of a crushing 111-92 Game 3 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and suddenly find themselves facing a 2-1 series deficit. The Spurs have retaken home-court advantage. This may be uncharted territory for Oden, but he’s aware of the mindset one must have to secure a must-needed win on Thursday.

“This is different, being in The Finals, but basketball is basketball,” he said. “You have to go out there and play. Except, The Finals is game-by-game. We kind of came in thinking another way, thought the game was going to be easy and it wasn’t. Every game is a different game. So we have to come in tomorrow and play harder, hopefully we get that win to tie it up.”

Oden will never be the player Portland and the league hoped or thought he would become. Nowhere near. And he’s fine with that. He’s at peace. Kevin Durant hasn’t helped Oden’s legacy with the way he has shot to super-stardom. Durant is on top right now, however if Miami can three-peat, Oden will be on top, a place most people are pulling for him to be.

He wants it bad.

“Honestly, wining this title, it would be amazing,” Oden confessed. “Everything I went through and how hard I fought back, it would be a great story.”

Despite a diminutive role, if they’re holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy in the end, he’s going to enjoy it as if he were the go-to player on the roster, and rightfully so.

“I’m a part of this team. It’s a team game. It’s not one single person,” Oden stated. “If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t be here. It’s about the team. It’s about everybody coming together, all 15 guys and coaches, coming together to get that championship. I’ll be so happy.”

And as far as his injury-plagued time in Portland, he says he wouldn’t have changed a thing when asked if he has any regrets. He has moved on and he hopes others have, too.

“No, there was a lot of stuff that I wish I would have did better, but I don’t regret it,” he said. “I was young. You live and you learn. And that’s how you grow and mature.”