Photo Courtesy of: Complex

Greg Oden was a beast. You can say what you want but the fact is when he was healthy, he was a big man who controlled the paint on both sides. A key piece that has been very rare in basketball since the likes of Hakeem, David Robinson, and Shaq left the league.

The first time I saw Greg Oden play, I was visiting family in Indy his Junior year at Ohio State and caught one of his games. He ended up with something crazy like 25 points, 20 boards, and what felt like a dozen blocks. Opponents were clearly shook anytime he was around the ball.

My only encounter with him was two weeks before he was drafted first overall, I randomly bumped into him at a Target out shopping for deodorant. I joked, asking why a few weeks before his big day, someone wasn’t out grabbing Old Spice for him. Without hesitation, he responded that someone might mess up and he couldn’t be out sweating through his shirts during interviews. He was approached by everyone who knew hoops in that store, taking the time patiently to chat it up everyone and having a good time. Another rare trait from someone who had celebrity status, even at 19.

Salute to a guy who always played his hardest and had a good time with it. Happy 27th birthday to Greg Oden, best of luck.

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