For Greg Oden, everything about Tuesday was like a dream.
After being away from basketball for four years, Oden was finally back on the court. And it was not just any court; it was in a conference hall in a hotel in the Bahamas.
The Miami Heat opened their training camp with a workout, focusing on defense at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Oden participated in half of the training session; it was still a crucial adjustment as he had not played since 2010.
"It's the first time in awhile, I'm happy I got it completed. They had to pull me off the floor," Oden said. "I've got to take steps."
After the session, Oden was seen sitting at courtside, icing both of his knees. The Heat's coaching staff have not cleared Oden for contact practice yet, and it still appears like a comeback is still a long way off. Miami is not in a hurry to get Oden back into playing form, and there appears to be no timeline set for his return.
It's step by step, practice by practice, minute by minute," head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We'll meet with the trainers ... and go from there."
The Heat have been waiting for Oden since the 2012-2013 season, getting his services over a number of other teams interested in the former number one draft pick. Oden was eventually signed to a one-year contract worth less than $900,000. Oden was forced to retire prematurely in 2010 due to lingering knee problems, including a history of microfractures and damaged cartilage.
Oden is one-half of the crucial acquisition binge that Miami participated in offseason, the other one being former number two pick Michael Beasley. Beasley was actually drafted by the Heat in 2007 and had a career year in 2010-11 after being traded to Minnesota. However, his game has been on the decline, and he was waived by Phoenix in September after being arrested for marijuana possession. Like Oden, he was offered the bare minimum contract for veterans, but this season could be his last chance to make it big at a championship contender.
Both Oden and Beasley are aware of the possibility of being out of the league after the 2013-14 season. But they have complete faith in the coaching staff's ability to resurrect careers, including those of Shane Battier and Ray Allen, who were stuck in teams that were not considered to be serious championship contenders.