WASHINGTON (AP) — Greg Oden played in his first NBA regular-season game in more than four years Wednesday night, coming off the bench in the second quarter of the Miami Heat's game against the Washington Wizards.
Wearing No. 20 and with both knees heavily wrapped, Oden entered with 6:03 remaining in the first half and made an immediate impact: He had an offensive rebound, a dunk and a foul in his first 30 seconds.
By halftime, Oden had two dunks, two free throws and a pair of rebounds. The Heat were getting blown out when he stepped on the floor, but he helped trim a 34-point deficit to 21 at halftime.
Oden started the second half — he said it was to keep him from getting stiff — and played four more minutes before sitting for good. His final line: eight minutes, six points, two rebounds, 2 for 3 from the field and 2 for 2 from the free-throw line in a 114-97 loss.
"I had no idea he was playing, actually, until he was getting dressed and I saw he had his knee brace on," teammate LeBron James said. "I was like, 'Oh, you active?' And he was like, 'Yeah,' so I was very excited. ... Obviously in a short amount of minutes tonight he was pretty good for us."
Oden's last appearance in a regular-season game was Dec. 5, 2009, when he fractured his left kneecap playing for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Houston Rockets. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft also missed what would have been his rookie year because of a right knee injury. He has had three microfracture surgeries on his knees.
"He's been working very diligently," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. "It's been all part of the plan. He's made great progress. He's getting stronger. He's getting healthier. He's getting his core right. Everything without skipping steps. We're very patient with him."