Greg Oden Back! (Video)

One thousand, four hundred, and eighteen days. Almost four years.

Any way you look at it, that’s a long, long time.

That’s how long the Miami Heat’s Greg Oden has been waiting to get back on a basketball court in a competative game. It’s been a grueling road filled with injuries and personal demons, but tonight all the hard work came to fruition.

Oden was back on the court as the Heat took on the New Orleans Pelicans in a preseason match-up. In the middle of the second quarter, Oden finally got the call. Blowing warm air into his hands, you could sense the nerves and anticipation as he walked onto the court. It was a big moment, physically and mentally, for Oden to step back onto the court. As the announcers noted, he isn’t really ready for game action, but Spoelstra rewarded him for his effort with a few minutes of action. His teammates were aware of it to, and many could be seen giving him words of encouragement as they broke the huddle.

Once the game got started again, it didn’t take long for the big man to get into the action. Deep in the paint, he took a pass from front court mate, Chris Bosh. After backing his defender down until he was almost right under the basket, Oden rose up and slammed the ball home powerfully, giving an extra tug on the rim for emphasis and sending the bench into a frenzy.

Regardless if you’re a Heat fan or not, this was an awesome moment. With all the injuries he’s suffered, there was a good chance we’d never see Oden back on the court again. And right away he showed us a flash of why he was drafted as the first overall pick in 2007. As hard as it may be to believe, Oden is still only 25 years old. If he can stay healthy, he can still put together a really nice career.

Glad you’re back Greg. Hope there’s more to come this year.