Sam Bowie on Greg Oden: ‘I Feel So Bad for the Kid’

Once Oden‘s season went up in flames again, everyone immediately thought back to Sam Bowie. The former Blazers big man empathizes with Greg’s struggle with injuries (and unmet expectations). From The Columbian: “I got the news last week about the injury. I think I felt it more than anyone besides Greg because I can relate to that scenario,’ said Bowie, now 49 and living in Lexington, Ky. ‘I feel so bad for the kid. I know what he’s going through.’ Twenty six years ago, Portland drafted Bowie with the second overall pick. He averaged 10 points and 8.6 rebounds as a rookie, but played in just 63 games over the next four seasons due to injuries … ‘There are always going to be talk shows or Trivia Pursuit questions that talk about me being drafted ahead of Jordan,’ said Bowie, admitting he’d catch himself marveling at Jordan’s ability in the middle of games. ‘Obviously, none of us knew he was going to turn out to be the greatest player to play the game, but being picked behind me made it that much worse.’ Life is timing. Players such as Kwame Brown, Michael Olowokandi and Stromile Swift are all first or second overall picks who had less productive careers than Bowie, but they were spared the burden of sharing a draft with one of the planet’s all-time great athletes. Some might say that if the situation ever depressed Bowie, he could always wipe his tears with a spare hundred dollar bill. He was, after all, a multi-millionaire paid more than any of his Blazer teammates. But kids playing in their driveways counting ‘5-4-3-2-1’ are imagining buzzer beaters and crowd roars, not contract negotiations and performance incentives. ‘The money does matter. If anyone tells you the money doesn’t matter, they’re lying. But there’s also pride and dignity. And once you’re on the court, no one’s running down the floor saying ‘hey, I make more money than you.’ Money is secondary,’ Bowie said. ‘Looking back on my career, one of the things I would do differently is give my body more time to recover. I felt guilty. I felt like I was getting compensated so well, but never able to perform. So I allowed the situation to get me on the court sooner than I should have. That would be my one piece of advice to Greg — as hard as it is, finish your rehab. Give your body extra time.'”

(H/T: @w_maxey)