Greg Who??

By Jerald L. Hoover
Updated: December 31, 2007

NEW YORK — Entering Monday night’s action, the Portland Trailblazers are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak has set the NBA on its ear. But, they’re doing all of this without their much ballyhooed and heralded number one pick, center Greg Oden, who for all intense and purposes was billed as the Second Coming, the Next Bill Russell, the Next Great Center-Block, the Next great anything and everything.

But, as we all know Oden will not be back until next season after having micro-fracture surgery on his right knee after he played a few games in the NBA Summer League and experience excruciating pain.

With the knee pain aside and recovery in full swing the emotional pain he must feel has to be challenging. Sure, in front of the cameras if he’s asked how he feels about his young team going on such a prolonged winning streak he’ll say all of the right things.

But, deep down he has to be suffering, even from a mere competitive stand point as he could only just fantasize what it could be like if he were in there patrolling the paint.

Just imagine for a second if Oden had been playing and was averaging say, 17 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks per game during this streak. Never mind just Rookie of the Year honors (Seattle Sonic Kevin Durant is a lock for it this year); we’d be talking All-Star starter as well as Most Valuable Player conversation.

Let’s face it folks no team save for the Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen led; Boston Celtics that’s really setting the NBA on fire. There are a few good surprise teams such as: the Atlanta Hawk, Washington Wizards without All-Star Gilbert Arenas, Los Angeles Lakers, especially since Kobe Bryant all but tried to lambaste the entire franchise this past summer, Philadelphia 76ers without Allen Iverson and maybe perhaps the Chris Paul generated, New Orleans Hornets.

Kudos goes out to head coach Nate McMillan and general manager Kevin Pritchard for NOT panicking when their worse fears came true; the day they found out that Oden was lost for the season. They could have had a rummage sale and tried to sell off more of their young and valuable core. But, what they’ve done was rallied the troops and become a United Front.

During this streak the Blazers have beat playoff contenders: Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets — twice, as well as pretenders: Sonics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.

That alone dispels many a naysayer from being critical of their competition. First off, NO team has gone undefeated for an entire 82 game season. NO TEAM! So that shows us that at some point even the eventual champs will lose a game or two. That being said, you play who’s on the schedule.

The Blazers’ brand of basketball is very intriguing. Almost reminds you of the way the Detroit Piston’s play. Not one real shining superstar per say but a whole lot of really good stars blending their collective talents together for the greater good of the team.

However, Brandon Roy is the leader and will unquestionably be an All-Star for season’s to come barring injury. Emerging forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge is someone to keep an eye on also.

He’s the goods!

The one negative if there’s any would be that the Blazers play out in the great Northwest and they’ve not had a lot of television time. With this a great deal of America hasn’t been privy to their exploits.

Ironically, however after the Blazers won the Oden Lottery, TNT, ESPN and ABC had them penciled in for SEVERAL games. But, once Oden went down the networks shuffled the deck and put other teams on instead. I guess the network execs aren’t winning streak prophets after all.

Question: Why does it seem like everybody who leaves the New York Knicks goes on to prosperity while the people they bring in come to purgatory?

Channing Frye is the latest of ex-Knicks that will be sending Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas a Christmas card and gifts. Frye was sent to Portland for Zach Randolph in a Draft Day trade. Current Charlotte Bobcat center Nazr Mohammed was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Malik Rose and was awarded with a Championship Ring playing alongside Tim Duncan.

Sonic forward, Kurt Thomas was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Quentin Richardson. Clipper Tim Thomas went to the Suns also and made it deep into the playoffs. Shannon Anderson won a ring with the Miami Heat. Mike Sweetney made it to the playoffs with the Chicago Bulls while the Knicks watched on television.