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Poet in the Post: Ode to Greg Oden

November 18, 2010

Greg, I hear your knees creak.
I hear that when you run up
and down the court
your hips and knees and wrist
creak like an old tree trunk

and that you've grown so stiff
you have to watch the world pass by
from an all-seeing folding chair;
men much older than you sprinting by,
like ravens, making you look
like some lost wanderer
who comes trolling the local gymnasiums
and playgrounds for spoiled youth.

I hear the children recognize you
by the limp of your five o'clock shadow.

Greg, I hear your knees creaked until they cracked,
and I wonder why you traded your eye
for wisdom and not new joints.

Why didn't you saw the legs
off your eight-legged steed
and strap them onto yourself
like a pair of Forrest Gump braces?
Isn't that what gods do--
make the crippled walk, dance, and leap?

How come you couldn't heal yourself?

Greg, how come your name
couldn't heal your body
and keep your sons from being so weak
that mistletoe could slay them?

I never understood a mythology
that teetered on top of a gimp tree
and the promise that the apocalypse
would come through the jaws
of a snake; I never understood
waiting on the end of the world
like one would wait for a mail man--

I never understood how jenga
translated into a religion.

Greg, I wish the world hadn't toppled you,
and that when we sifted through your ruins,
like piles of junk mail,
an ode to the new world had sprung forth--
full of exaltation--
rather than the exhausted lament:

we are the giants we were born to disfigure.

7 comments:

Langston said...

The consistent demise of both Oden and Yao is robbing us of possibly the next Mutumbo v Ewing. At the very least, one should be able to stay healthy so we can what happens to Dwight Howard when defended by guys just as big and talented.

November 20, 2010 at 12:22 AM
Teach said...

Langston: I think you've brought up the saddest part in all this, that often goes unmentioned. We may never see the best of Dwight Howard because there really isn't anyone there to push him, other than maybe Bogut.

November 20, 2010 at 10:07 AM
Russ said...

I keeping hearing comparisons to Sam Bowie but its still too early to write off Oden at this point. He is only 22. Ilgauskas didn't play much his first 4 years because of injury (although not as serious) and has come back to have a very respectable career. Crazier things of happen. But at this point, comparisons to Sam Bowie is an insult to Sam Bowie.

November 20, 2010 at 10:33 AM
Teach said...

The problem with Oden is that he's lost out on the years where he should have developed his game, so even if he returns, he's most likely relegated to the roles of being a defender and vagabond. Ilguaskas missed time, but he already had a developed game. Oden's history of injuries, going back to middle school, have stunted his growth to the point that I think it's safe to say he is not nearly the player he could have been.

November 20, 2010 at 10:42 AM
Russ said...

Ilguaskas will have a better offensive game, but Oden could become a poor man's Mutombo and be an elite defender/rebounder, something Ilguaskas could never do.

I will never forget the one column that Bill Simmons wrote after the 2007 draft where Durant and Oden were at some awards show (maybe the ESPYs) and he saw Oden walking down the aisle and immediately at that point said that the Blazers made the wrong decision. Ultimately his body just wasn't made for the rigors of basketball. Just a shame.

November 20, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Teach said...

Remember that article too, and it did nail Oden's pains.

November 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM
beamaw said...

Good poem. Sad story.

December 3, 2010 at 3:50 PM

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