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By Matt McCoy
To most, it was an insignificant NBA pre-season game in October but to former Buckeye and 2007 number one overall draft pick Greg Oden, it was huge.
Oden's pro career has been limited to only 82 games due to multiple injuries to both knees. He had not played in a game since December of 2009 with Portland, when he suffered another knee injury that many thought would end his career.
After two more microfracture knee surgeries and rehab work at Ohio State and his hometown of Indianapolis, Oden got a shot as a free agent with the Miami Heat and made his debut Wednesday night.
Oden checked in during the second quarter and on his very first possession, threw down a ferocious dunk. He also grabbed a pair of rebounds during his four minute stint on the floor, as Miami won 108-95.
"It's been three years...three long years," Oden said on the Heat television broadcast. "My friends and my family and God have been with me the whole way and I finished the game."
Miami is being very careful with Oden, monitering both knees closely. Earlier in training camp he was pulled for a few days when minor swelling was detected. Following his Wednesday appearance, a significant step in his comeback, Oden was asked what is next.
"Right now ice," Oden said. "Make sure that tomorrow I take care of everything I need to and make sure the swelling is down and my knee is good and go out there and look forward to the next game I can get into."
Here's hoping his appearance is the first of many more and that next game is sooner rather than later.
Here is video of Oden's return to the floor and his post-game interview.