The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft opened up to Grantland.com, detailing his five seasons with the PortlandTrail Blazers on and off the court.
Oden, who underwent five knee surgeries during his time in Portland -- including three microfracture surgeries -- wasreleased by the Blazers in March. He appeared in just 82 games as a professional and hasn't played since Dec. 2009 and spent much of his time in Portland alone or rehabilitating. All that time and freedom led Oden to alcohol, he said.
That's because it wasn't an NBA veteran who took Greg under his wing in his second season — it was his veteran cousin from the Air Force who moved into Greg's house in Portland.
"If you know anything about guys in the Air Force," Greg explained, "it's that they drink a ton. My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I'd drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I'd drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic."
Back in June 2011, Oden's agent Bill Duffy acknowledged that Oden had undergone "interventions" to help deal with the mental side of his injuries.
Grantland.com reports that Oden does not plan to retire but that he will step away from the game for next season with the knowledge that his career might be over.
Right now, his plan is to take off the entire 2012-13 season, move back to Columbus, take all the time he needs to rehab his knee back to full strength, and continue working toward the degree that he abandoned after one year at Ohio State. Once he feels ready, he plans to sign with an NBA team in 2013 and (hopefully) string together a few years of injury-free basketball.
"I'd just have to accept it," Greg said. "I'm at peace with everything. I want more than anything to be able to play again. But if I can't, I'll still have a decent life. Getting cut (by Portland) kind of put everything into perspective. There's more to life than basketball, and at some point it's going to end anyway. I'm going to do what I can to get back on the court, but if it doesn't work out, I'll find something else to do and have a normal life."
Oden, 24, posted career averages of 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds during his time in Porland.