Greg Oden Makes Miami Heat Debut vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Alex KayCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2013

Miami Heat center Greg Oden made his triumphant return to the NBA on Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman had the news:

The Heat emphatically announced Oden's first points shortly after tipoff:

Miami Herald reporter Joseph Goodman provided LeBron's take:

LeBron added this as well:

Oden had this to say about his performance after the game:

It’s been nearly four years since the former No. 1 overall pick has seen game action. Oden hasn’t played a single minute since Dec. 5, 2009, when he went down with one of the multiple knee injuries that have plagued the 7-footer throughout his career.

The Portland Trail Blazers finally released him in March 2012, after the big man underwent his third microfracture knee surgery since being drafted in June 2007. He played just 82 games during his five seasons with the organization.

Miami took a chance on Oden this past summer, offering him a one-year deal that affords the beleaguered talent a chance to prove he can stay on the court and potentially earn a more lucrative contract.

At age 25, he still has all the potential in the world. He was picked ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 draft for his ability to change a game with his imposing size and athleticism, which is something he could potentially do down the line for the Heat.

Oden holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in just over 22 minutes per game. He’s an efficient finisher inside and has the physical attributes to guard most big men in one-on-one situations.

Right now, he just needs to concentrate on staying healthy and not overextending himself. The big man had a slight setback during training camp with soreness in his left knee, but was able to overcome that to make his Heat debut Wednesday.

The Ohio State product seems quite self-aware and accepting of his current situation.

He told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, "This has been three years for me, as long as it's no surgery, it's OK. This is going to be a long season, I'm going to get there."

It’s unknown how many minutes head coach Erik Spoelstra plans on playing Oden, but it’s hard to imagine him logging more than a handful in games this season.

That’s fine, of course. Oden is taking things as they come at this stage of his career, and he knows that steady progress is better than none at all.