Greg Oden recently signed a minimum-salary two-year contract with the Heat for $2.173MM with a player option for the second year. Oden's tenure with the Heat hasn't even begun and people are already curious about the former No. 1 pick's health after three micro-fracture surgeries, the most recent coming in February of 2012.
Oden hasn't appeared on an NBA court since December 5, 2009 with the Trail Blazers, but his three year sabbatical from the game has ended, and he's ready to get back on the court for the two-time defending champion Heat. The 25-year-old Oden answered questions among assembled media at the St. Vincent Sport Performance Center in Indianapolis on Saturday:
On the wait-and-see expectations concerning his health next season:
"After three years of being out, I'm just going to go out and do what I can. If somehow [my body] says no, then it says no. But for me, I'm not even worried about that. Just go play and not even think about that.
"I've signed on the dotted line, put it like that. I've got a contract. As y'all can see this smile, I've got a contract. I'm excited."
On how he felt in Portland and his decision to come back:
"Two years ago … when I was in Portland, there were some dark times for me. That two weeks after my last surgery … I was just like, 'I don't know what's going on. What's going to happen? Which way is it going to go?'
"Two weeks later I was like, 'I'm coming back.' That's what I want to do."
On his body returning to the rigors of the NBA:
"I'm 25 [years old] now … I've got an old body. I understand. My body is not going to be [like it was]when I was 18 and able to run all day and jump over people. I can't do that. It's just not going to happen. My knees, the wear and tear, I understand that.
"But I'm a play as hard as I can. I'm going to try to jump over people and I'm going to try to run all day. If my body lets me, I'll do it.
"My body's just getting used to playing again. My knees do feel good. I'm able to walk. I'm running, jumping. I'm doing everything.
"[My body's] going to [need] maintenance for the rest of my life. I've got to warm up to warm up and then play. I understand that now."
On choosing the Miami Heat over other suitors:
"My friends told me, 'If you take out the possibility of getting hurt again, what other choice is there?' If I take out the possibility of getting hurt, why would I not play with the champs?
"If LeBron [James] decides to get another ring, I get one too, now."