Paul Allen is going to have a lot of octopi pictures to mail today.
ESPN's website/essay contest Grantland has scored an interview with former Trail Blazer and walking meme Sad Greg Oden. He tells Mark Titus that, soon after moving to Portland, he fell in with his Air Force veteran cousin and began drinking heavily.
"If you know anything about guys in the Air Force," Greg explained, "it's that they drink a ton. My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I'd drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I'd drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic."
Titus confirms every assumption about Oden's basic decency and preposterous lucklessness: His best childhood friend died in a car wreck when he could have been attending an Ohio State game; he "locked himself in his house for three straight days" when his penis pictures hit the internet; he raised a blind dog for four years until it fell off an eighth-story balcony while he was rehabbing in Los Angeles.
(UPDATE, 5 pm: It took us three hours to realize, in horror, that this dog was almost certainly Charles Barkley McLovin, the beagle mix Oden bought his rookie season and wrote about in this now unbearably poignant blog post. We spent much of 2007 and 2008 showering that dog in affectionate jokes. Rest in peace, Charles Barkley McLovin.)
But what's going to drive the Blazers front office mad is how Titus implies that the greatest misfortune that befell Greg Oden was getting drafted by Portland—the franchise that destroys players.
This seems like a good time to point out that Portland had only a 5 percent chance of landing the no. 1 overall pick in the 2007 lottery, which means that there was only a 5 percent chance that Greg and his injury-prone body would get paired with a medical staff considered by many to be the worst in the NBA.
Titus argues that Oden was rushed through his rehabs, and while most of his case against the Blazers training staff proceeds through insinuation, he also tells a fairly amazing story about how Oden stopped seeing his therapist because he came to believe the doctor was sharing confidential information with the team.
Read that charge, and the whole piece, here.