While I'm guilty of taking Greg Oden's health problems and transforming them into punchlines and general derision, I tried to always make a distinction between goofing on the situation, and goofing on the man himself, mostly because I didn't really know anything about the man himself other than he looked older than Methuselah, he once took a picture of his dick, and his legs were on loan from the prop department at Touchstone Pictures, producers of the film Unbreakable, starring Samuel L. Jackson as a supervillain named Mr. Glass.
I always got the sense that dude was pretty torn up about his situation, and being that his situation was pretty unique, there wasn't really an outlet. Who do you talk to about being a 22 year old bust, pretty much stuck, in a city that fits you about as poorly as your draft-day suit, collecting checks you know you don't deserve?
You talk to your friend from high school, I guess. An interview with Mark Titus just went up over at Bill Simmons' boutique blog Grantland and I'm pretty sure this is the deepest, clearest view inside Greg Oden's mind and heart that anyone in Portland has ever gotten. Things you will learn:
Autograph-seekers annoy him because he doesn't understand why they'd want to interrupt his dinner for a signature from a nothing.
The blind dog he kept as a companion for over four years crawled through a hotel railing and fell eight stories to its death while he was rehabbing his knee in Los Angeles
The "Always There" tattoo on his arm is a message to his brother, who is the cause for the wrist injury that everyone was worried about on draft day, because his brother is intensely jealous of him.
He essentially floated through his second season with the Blazers on undulating waves of alcohol.
There's a lot more to the interview, which is mostly free of excuse-making, and loaded with examples of just how star-crossed and snakebit the stillborn career of Greg Oden was. Read it here.