Greg Oden Explains How He Used To Have A Drinking Problem

05.09.12 6 years ago
Greg Oden

Greg Oden (photo. Jonathan Mannion)

None of us have seen Greg Oden play since December 5, 2009. Oddly, for someone who represented failure for so long in NBA circles, Oden’s grip on the public has wavered, dwindled and ultimately in the past year, he’s been somewhat forgotten about. Outside of his cell phone picture scandal, the big man is getting exactly what he says he always wanted these past two years: anonymity (or at least as much of it as possible for someone who was once picked over Kevin Durant). The man who used to never be able to go anywhere without drawing attention now has to make people take him seriously once again.

In a piece from Grantland, Oden says he plans on taking the entire 2012-13 season off before coming back the following year to sign with an NBA team. From there, he hopes to put together a few seasons without injury, and if he can’t, well, the world moves on. Just as it has without him these past two years.

Oden also told his friend and former teammate, Mark Titus of Grantland, that during his second year in the NBA, he became so depressed that he basically became an alcoholic:

“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.”

The entire piece is perhaps the first time anyone has ever gotten Oden to pull back the blinds and let the public in. But what it ends up showing is what we figured all along: Oden is a guy who dislikes the spotlight so much that when fans came up asking for autographs and pictures, he would change his expressions and put off a vibe and a personality that decidedly wasn’t him.

After that disatrous second season, Oden smartened up, got in better shape and handled his off-court business much more efficiently. The results were awesome: 11.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in less than 25 minutes a game before he fractured his kneecap in December of that season. That was the last we’ve seen of the former No. 1 overall pick in the NBA.

Will Oden ever make it back and become a solid NBA player?

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