Free agent center Greg Oden’s basketball career is once again at a crossroads. Oden joined the Miami Heat and played sparingly in 23 regular season games — with averages of 2.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 9.2 minutes — after being away from the court for nearly four years.
The big fella reportedly fell back into his destructive old habits in South Beach, and is now facing a felony domestic violence charge after admitting to having punched an ex-girlfriend in the face. Per ESPN:
“Every time Greg seems to be about to trend upward, something happens,” said James Jones, a teammate of Oden’s for a season with the Portland Trail Blazers and last season with the Heat. “It’s unfortunate. Obviously, this time is a different situation than anything he’s really faced before.”
Privately, his battle with personal demons still raged, according to multiple sources. Alcohol abuse remained a concern last season as he sat out many games because of soreness in his knees and back. When he was left in Miami during road trips early in the season, he often was spotted at local sports bars and restaurants, including a Hooters across the street from AmericanAirlines Arena, to watch the games.
Teammates talked about Oden’s straight-faced, dry humor and often joked that he was on a multiyear “rehab contract.” His candidness to the point of self-deprecation was viewed as a coping mechanism, but it was generally respected by those around him.