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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Browns, Cavs, and Greg Oden

Greg Oden has jaw-dropping Chinese basketball debut

Eight years after he was the No. 1 pick, three years after he was waived (for the first time), Greg Oden’s potential still turns head. Even from China.
The 7-foot Ohio State product, grabbed by Portland ahead of Kevin Durant in 2007, dealt with surgeries and recoveries for his NBA entirety, a start-and-stop that never quite started. He has become a cautionary tale, a player so filled with potential but so lacking in health. With each knee surgery came a sigh, a what-could-have-been longing for the center whom Steve Kerr called a “once-in-a-decade player.”
But Oden insists his story still is being written, and he’s taken to the Chinese Basketball Association when no NBA team would take a flier. After one game with the Jiangsu Dragons, the NBA and its fans are reminded of just what a special talent he is.
Oden put up 19 points, 23 rebounds and four blocks in 17 minutes, an otherworldly performance in another world on Sunday. The Chinese league is not the NBA, of course — this is the same league Stephon Marbury dominated and players such as Steve Francis, Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady made stops at — but still, that statline in a 79-76 win reminds of the optimism that once followed Oden wherever he went.
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Photo: http://bbs.hupu.com/14815816.html
The Buffalo native was unguardable at Ohio State. Teaming with fellow freshman Mike Conley Jr., Oden powered the Buckeyes to the national championship, where he put on a show of old-school, back-to-the-basket big man basketball. He poured in 25 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, but Ohio State couldn’t overcome Florida, and Oden was bound for Portland with the No. 1 pick.
Then came the knee injuries. Then came the foot injuries. Then came a few more knee injuries. He had three straight years cut short by knee injuries — both right and left — and played just 82 total games in five years with the Trail Blazers.
He caught on with LeBron James and Miami in 2013-14, but looked a hobbled shadow of the player he used to be. As the Heat fell to the Spurs in the NBA Finals, Oden watched from the bench.
Now, the comeback tour, he hopes, beginning in China. It’s off to a good start.

Cavaliers Reportedly Banned Team from Using Hoverboards at Quicken Loans Arena

Cavaliers Reportedly Banned Team from Using Hoverboards at Quicken Loans Arena
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images 

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't a franchise lacking fun and entertainment right now, owning the Eastern Conference's best record entering Sunday, but one thing the team isn't high on is the use of hoverboards by its players around Quicken Loans Arena. 
According to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, the team has banned the motorized scooters from the arena following a club meeting. 
If you recall, during last year's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Cavaliers star J.R. Smith made headlines when he arrived at the Q on a machine loosely resembling the contraption that Marty McFly was using to get away from Biff Tannen and his gang in Back To The Future Part II. 
The decision to ban the hoverboards came around the time Cleveland's season started at the end of October, per a separate report from Haynes, when the Cavaliers held a team meeting to get on the same page. "[We were] just making sure everybody is doing the right thing and having the right goals in their heads," the Cavs' Sasha Kaun told Haynes of that meeting.    As much fun as Smith appeared to be having and as cool as the hoverboards look, they will have to be kept behind closed doors for Cleveland's players during their quest for a title.

Gruden advises patience with Manziel

manziel-johnny101715-getty-ftrjpg_1iltxbxi5cy0z1konw7fwtauffGetty Images
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel partied (and lied) his way out of the starting job in Cleveland over the balance of the season, but former NFL coach Jon Gruden doesn’t believe it should mean the end of Manziel’s time with the Browns.
“If he wants to be a great quarterback and realize his potential, let this be the day he gets awakened,” Gruden told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com on Saturday. Gruden will call Monday night’s Ravens-Browns game for ESPN.
Some would say that Manziel should have been awakened by now, after a disastrous end to his rookie season and a 10-week offseason stay in rehab. Gruden is hopeful that this time will be the time that Manziel realizes he needs to grow up.
“He’s a young kid,” Gruden said of Manziel, who is still 22. “He should still be at Texas A&M. Sometimes you have to remember that.”
Gruden specifically remembers another young quarterback with a penchant for partying. His number was retired by the Packers two nights ago.
“We traded for a guy when I first got to Green Bay that Atlanta said was a little bit of a hell raiser and it turned out OK for us,” Gruden said of Brett Favre. “You know what I mean?”
Ultimately, Favre could be the best guy to get through to Manziel. Like Manziel, Favre spent time in rehab early in his career. Favre overcame an addiction to painkillers, which forced him to find a way to play for years without pharmaceutical intervention.
If Gruden really wants to help Manziel, Gruden should connect Manziel and Favre. And Manziel would be wise to listen to anything Favre has to say.
“He’s a polarizing guy,” said Gruden regarding Manziel. “You love him. You don’t like him. Everybody has their own feeling, but deep down, I know there’s a good person in there, a lot of talent, and somebody is going to tap into it. I believe that.”
Listening to what Gruden has to say, it’s hard not to wonder whether Browns owner Jimmy Haslam will try to hire Gruden to do what he did with Manziel earlier this year on a full-time basis, as the head coach of the team.
“We went straight at it,” Gruden said regarding his time spent working with Manziel. “We were right out in the open. One day I think we played golf. We talked about some deep and philosophical things. It was very unusual for me, but I care about him. I care about his family. I want to see him realize his potential.”
To realize that potential, Manziel has to overcome his demons once and for all, mature into a guy who obsesses over the details of being an NFL quarterback, and find a way to gain — and to retain — the trust of an NFL team. If he does the first two, the last one will follow. 

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