AP Portland center Greg Oden, who underwent surgery on his right knee, walks with crutches with Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard before the start of a news conference on Thursday in Tualatin. - AP

Knee injury baffles Oden

PORTLAND — Top NBA draft pick Greg Oden doesn't remember much from immediately after knee surgery. He was with his mother at home when he found out how serious it was.

"I kinda looked at my mom and said, 'I'm out for the season? You kidding me?' " he said.

Oden will be on crutches for six more weeks. Full recovery likely will take six to 12 months. He has started swimming, and a machine gently bends his knee for six hours a day.

Oden was at the Trail Blazers' practice facility on Thursday on crutches and with his surgically repaired left knee wrapped in ice.

Except for a videotaped blog entry, it was the 7-footer's first public appearance since undergoing microfracture surgery on Sept. 13. He will miss the season rehabbing.

"I just want everybody to know, I did not hurt my knee getting up off the couch this summer, and I didn't hurt my knee playing 'Dance Dance Revolution' and break dancing this summer," he joked. "That did not happen."

While he joked about how the injury occurred, Oden said it remains a mystery. He took time off after the draft, and theknee started feeling pain when he resumed training. He did laughingly admit to having a "Dance Dance Revolution" interactive video game at his home.

Oden was in good spirits, although he said the full impact of missing the season probably won't hit him until Tuesday, when the Blazers start fall practice for the season.

"You know, it is a setback, but I'm excited to be able to scout the NBA for the whole year, and just know that next year when I come in I'm going to be 20 years old, I'm going to be very mature, and I'm going to be ready to play."

He even predicted he'd be better than he was before: "I'm hoping for a 40-inch vertical."

The regular-season opener is at San Antonio on Oct. 30.

Oden also said the Blazers, with guard Brandon Roy, last season's Rookie of the Year, and forward LaMarcus Aldridge, would be fine without him.

"You don't know how good these guys are going to be this year. I've played against LaMarcus Aldridge, and he kills me every time," he said. "If they want a basket, give him the ball."

He had spoken to Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin, who have had microfracture surgery and they warned him not to rush back.

Oden averaged 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds last season as a freshman at Ohio State, despite being hampered by a wrist injury. He led the Buckeyes to the national championship game, scoring 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the loss to Florida.

There was much fanfare when the Blazers got the first pick in the draft, and even more when the team chose Oden over Texas forward Kevin Durant, who went to Seattle with the second pick.

Oden was ushered into the city with a rally downtown, and a stories-high jersey with his name was hung on the Rose Garden Arena.

While losing their rookie center was a blow to the organization, general manager Kevin Pritchard said the team "couldn't be happier the way things are moving and progressing already."

"We've got a great kid who really cares about this organization, and his character is already shining through," Pritchard said.

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