If you've read this story already, you know the sort of damage that Greg Oden inflicted on a woman last week.
He punched her three times, causing three separate injuries, including a fracture, multiple bruises and a cut. I don't think there's any doubt he's going to be very fortunate to avoid prison time for what's being charged as felony battery.
I don't know where to start a discussion about this poor sap. His NBA career barely got off the ground as the Portland Trail Blazers' No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft before multiple injuries derailed it. Even back during his time in Portland there were many rumors about alcohol abuse and his behavior when intoxicated -- which is said to have played a part in the recent assault of the woman said to be his ex-girlfriend. Later, he admitted he had a problem with alcohol.
As an interested spectator to the beginnings of his NBA career, I often defended him. I thought him to be an earnest, if overly shy, intelligent young man who suffered much more than he ever publicly admitted over his failure to build a career worthy of his draft status. I felt for him the same way I did for another injury-cursed Blazer center, Sam Bowie. You know what I mean, Portlanders, like Bill Walton, too -- the "if only" thoughts.
Nobody deserved that heaping helping of bad luck -- not those players and not the Trail Blazer franchise.
But this has turned out to be such a sad story. Oden's comeback season with Miami last year didn't turn out well. He never could fill just the 15-minute-per-game role the Heat envisioned for him. He spent a good portion of games in his familiar seat -- behind the team bench in street clothes.
And now this -- a vicious attack on a woman that left her needing surgery and stitches.
All the time I watched Oden in Portland, I never saw that kind of emotion or fury out of him anywhere near a basketball court. And it left me wondering how it all would have turned out had he invested the sort of ferocity in his frequent rehab sessions that he did while assaulting that woman. Maybe it could have somehow all turned out a little better for him. It couldn't have turned out much worse.
And there are no excuses left for him.