Greg Odenís return
Greg Oden has not played in a regular season NBA game since December 5, 2009. However, that streak officially ended Wednesday evening, when Oden made his first debut as a member of the Miami Heat. It has been more than 4 years or 1,502 days since Oden has last played in a regular season game and the big man was ecstatic and surprised to finally return.
"Earlier today, coach said I could dress," Oden said. "I didn't know if I was going to play or not, but I got out there and I did, and I'm happy I got the chance. It felt good, just being able to be back out on the court. Honestly, the big thing is, to be able to have now that connection now with my teammates. I've been here, I've been around, but when you're not playing, sometimes deep down you don't really feel part of the team as much. I'm happy I can do that."
Even though Oden only played eight minutes total, he showed glimpses of what he could be like when healthy, including a ferocious dunk that was reminiscent of Shaquille O’Neal.
His teammate, LeBron James said, “I had no idea he was playing, actually, until he was getting dressed and I saw he had his knee brace on. I was like, 'Oh, you active?' And he was like, 'Yeah,' so I was very excited. ... Obviously in a short amount of minutes tonight he was pretty good for us."
There are some conjectures that the Heat were merely testing to see what Oden had in the tank, so that they could get Andrew Bynum as back-up insurance for Oden, but Pat Riley, the GM of the Heat, shot that notion down.
"It's all speculation," Riley said. "That's all it is. There will be a tremendous amount of research (on free agents). There's nothing going at all. There's nothing happening at all with that situation."