Oden's pickup game upsets Blazers

PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers scolded injured center Greg Oden for playing in a pickup game at a neighborhood fitness center.

"We called him and we told him he can't do that," coach Nate McMillan said Friday.

Oden, the top pick in last year's draft who is out for the season after microfracture surgery on his right knee, was at the gym on Wednesday night with some friends.

The 7-footer said he played two games. "I was going to play one, but I lost the first one," he said.

McMillan wrote off the incident as "pretty innocent," but also wanted to let Oden know that he is a valuable commodity to the team, and therefore he has to stay out of risky situations.

"He's a young man. He wants to be the same young man as when he came here. And he's not," the coach said. "He's got too much value."

Oden said he didn't dunk eight or 10 times, as was reported on an Internet forum. But he did get in a few — and he didn't need to jump.

"It was a nine-foot goal, so it was pretty easy to dunk on," he said.

Oden seemed surprised at the attention the game had received. About a dozen reporters and television crews showed up to talk to him after Friday morning's practice.

"I don't think he thought he was doing anything wrong, and I'm sure he was trying to protect himself," McMillan said. "But he just can't do that."

Oden, who played one season at Ohio State before he was selected by the Blazers in June, required surgery to repair his knee last September, shutting down his rookie season before it started.

Recently he started participating in light drills with the team, but he will not play this season or in summer league play, McMillan said. The idea is to make sure there are no setbacks so he can start training camp next October.

The Blazers (38-35) host Charlotte tonight.

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