Nature of Oden's Wrist Injury

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Last updated: 05/11/2012 11:18 AM

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Men;s Basketball
Titus Article Reveals True Nature of Oden’s Wrist Injury

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On March 31, 2007, just two days before Ohio State played in the NCAA Championship game against Florida, the New York Times ran an article about Greg Oden.

It was hardly a unique topic at the time. Oden was a star freshman for the Buckeyes, and one of the biggest stories in all of college athletics. His imposing size and unique athleticism would eventually make him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft that June.

This photo was shot on January 24, 2007. Greg Oden's right wrist was clearly bandaged. He shot free throws left handed that day against Northwestern. He went six of seven from the field, five of 10 from the free thow line, and gathered 17 rebounds despite playing essentially one-handed.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Greg Oden

But this particular article in the Times was about the development of Oden’s left hand, and how it made him an even more attractive commodity for NBA teams—if that was possible.

“Oden would most likely be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft even if he could not use his left hand at all,” the article read. “But because he can shoot free throws, hook shots and eight-foot jumpers with his left hand, he is among the most touted college players ever.”

That made perfect sense, because Oden was also among the most touted high school prospects ever to play the game. His commitment to Ohio State forever changed the way people viewed head coach Thad Matta, who since hauled in a number of big-time prospects to Columbus.

When Oden arrived, however, his right hand was already in a cast. He couldn’t practice, and spent his afternoons riding an exercise bike at the Value City Arena practice facility while his teammates played pickup games.

Eventually, Oden became frustrated with his limitations, and with being held out of practice. He picked up a basketball and started to shoot around with his left hand. By the time he returned to the floor after missing the first seven games of his freshman season, Oden could do a lot with his left hand.

What Ohio State fan could ever forget watching Oden shoot left-handed layups that season? He missed his first field-goal attempt at Ohio State, then converted his next 17 attempts from the floor.

Greg Oden scores with his left hand over Northwestern center Vince Scott.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Greg Oden

He shot free throws left-handed all the way until March, sinking an incredible 62 percent of them, but was it wasn’t until recently that we became aware of the true cause of Oden’s wrist injury.

“His emphasis on privacy explains why you probably didn't know the real reason he injured his wrist just before he got to Ohio State,” former AAU and Ohio State teammate Mark Titus wrote in his latest piece for Grantland.com.

“You know, the reported basketball-related injury that sidelined him for the first half of his freshman season.”

According to the New York Times article, Oden injured his right wrist during a high school playoff game his senior season at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. The article claims Oden was “hacked across his right wrist” by an opposing player who had become enraged watching Oden make one slam dunk after another.

He would still lead his team to a state championship that season, but Oden had trouble gripping the ball the rest of the year. He had to settle for layups instead of dunks, which had become his forte as a 7-foot high school player.

Oden would have surgery after the season, which limited his effectiveness during his one season at Ohio State. He still averaged 15.4 points and 9.5 rebounds a game while leading the Buckeyes to the title game, but Titus says the story of his wrist injury is a lot different than the Times article would suggest.

What actually happened?

“He damaged ligaments defending himself in a fight with his hotheaded younger brother, Anthony,” Titus wrote in his most recent article, a intimate portrait of Oden’s struggle to overcome injuries in the NBA.

According to Titus, the incident actually occurred shortly before the Indiana state tournament during Oden’s senior season, which would explain why he had a hard time gripping the basketball.

“Greg and Anthony's occasionally ugly sibling rivalry is similar to a lot of brothers' relationships,” Titus wrote.

“But the fact that one brother, Greg, was the best basketball player in the country during his high school years only intensified things.”

For those who don’t know, Anthony Oden would eventually sign with the University of Arkansas as a 4-star offensive tackle out of Hargrave Military Academy.

He never made it with the Razorbacks.

In 2009, he made his first start as a freshman at Arkansas, becoming the first Razorback true freshman to start on the offensive line since Shawn Andrews in 2001. The next summer, however, he was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated on July 4, 2010.

Then, in 2011, just when he was expected to compete for a starting spot on the offensive line, Anthony Oden was arrested for his second DWI in as many years. Then-Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had no choice but to dismiss the 6-8, 320-pound junior from his football team.

“Even though Greg's success has always been a wedge between him and Anthony, Greg's first tattoo — the words "Always There" on his left shoulder — was meant to be a message of unyielding support and love for his brother,” Titus wrote.

“Unfortunately, that support has not always been mutual.”

 

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