Sorry, does that say Sam Bowie? It should say Greg Oden out for the season and that, of course, is much, much worse news for current Portland Trail Blazer fans. The members of that group that have been around a while can probably remember Bowie and Bill Walton, even, so they should take aside the younger ones and try to offer some comfort and reassurance in these cruel times. Making the news even worse is that Oden underwent micro fracture surgery today and that's hardly a cure-all.
"Greg had an arthroscopy and a micro fracture surgery today," said team physician Dr. Don Roberts, who preformed the surgery. "He was found to have articular cartilage damage in his right knee. The area of injury was not large and we were able to treat it with micro fracture, which stimulates the growth of cartilage. There are things about this that are positive for Greg. First of all he is young. The area where the damage was is small and the rest of his knee looked normal. All those are good signs for a complete recovery from micro fracture surgery."
Micro fracture surgery has a very mixed history of success among NBA players. Jason Kidd had it and has returned to the same excellent level of play as before, so did John Stockton. The operation hasn't helped Chris Webber return to his previous form, though, and Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway are making last-ditch comeback efforts this season because they never sufficiently healed from having the surgery.
The best hope for the Blazers is that Oden follows the path of Amare Stoudemire. He missed the 2005-06 season after having the operation but returned this year with 20 points and nine-plus rebounds per game. If that's the case it will merely delay the start of Oden's career and shouldn't have a terrible impact on his production. But Oden had problems with his wrist and back before hitting the pro game and there were pre-draft questions about the long-term health of his knees. Taking that into account you can understand why Blazer fans with a sense of history might be wondering if they haven't made the Bowie mistake all over again by passing on Kevin Durant. It's much too soon to say that, of course, but the dark clouds in the Pacific Northwest have little to do with the weather this afternoon.