Basketball

NBA notes: Is there a Blazers' curse?

Greg Oden's latest injury sent a shudder through the Trail Blazers, conjuring memories of Sam Bowie and Bill Walton.

Portland has a bleak history when it comes to drafting big men and some wonder whether the 7-footer's sprained foot portends trouble.

Oden was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft but was gone even before his rookie season started because of surgery on his right knee. Then days ago, in his delayed NBA debut, he went down against the Los Angeles Lakers and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

Longtime Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely, who was around for the glory days of the 1977 championship, urges patience.

“Just let the kid grow up,” Schonely said. “He's going to get bigger, he's going to get better. He just wants to be a teammate right now. We all need to let him be.”

Bowie is considered one of the biggest busts in draft history, fairly or unfairly. The Blazers took the 7-1 center with the No. 2 overall pick – ahead of Michael Jordan.

While Bowie played in 76 games his rookie season, averaging 10 points and 8.6 rebounds, he appeared in just 63 games over the next four seasons because of injuries. He missed the entire 1987-88 season. In all, he had five operations on his legs.

Jordan went on to become, well, Michael Jordan.

Bowie is a gracious and private man who settled with his family in Kentucky. After Oden's microfracture surgery, he spoke with ESPN.

“Obviously, with the past history of the team and my situation, he's walked into some quicksand, shall we say. I just hope this kid gets a chance to prove all of the doubters wrong,” Bowie said.

Walton was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1974, and, like Oden, was expected to produce mightily. But his first two seasons were beset by injury, with a broken nose, leg, foot and wrist.

Then came the 1976-77 season when the Blazers won the title in their first trip to the postseason, with Walton the MVP of the finals.

Elsewhere

DETROIT: Seldom-used Kwame Brown, picked No. 1 overall by Washington in 2001, had eight points in eight minutes for the Pistons against the Wizards.

ORLANDO: The Magic bench has contributed only 39 points in the first three games. Sacramento's bench outscored Orlando 29-13. J.J. Redick, the first player off the Magic bench, is 0-for-8 from the field in 39 minutes of action this season.

INDIANA: Indiana guard Mike Dunleavy sat out with a sore right knee, and Pacers guard Travis Diener was out with a sore left foot. Forward Danny Granger lost two teeth while diving for a loose ball against the Celtics.

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