There was even a little drama to Oden's surprise practice. When coach Nate McMillan announced the players he wanted on the court to run through offensive plays, he named Raef LaFrentz, Sergio Rodriguez, Josh McRoberts, Von Wafer . . . and Oden.
"There was somewhat of an uproar by the team," McMillan said. "Some of them said 'Greg?', and I was like, 'Yeah, Greg.' I think everyone was just excited to see him on the floor, just moving with the team."
Even though Oden said he went through the drills at about half speed, he looked much like the fluid, agile and coordinated big man from before his September surgery, when he was considered a can't-miss prospect as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 NBA draft.
"It's nice to see him get to this point, and to do it during the season," McMillan said. "If he is at this point right now, he should be in good shape come training camp (in October)."
That's fantastic news. Quick notes that Oden managed to dunk on Assistant Coach Maurice Lucas' head a few times.
After running through some offensive plays, Oden went to another court and worked one-on-one with assistant coach Maurice Lucas. With Oden on offense taking entry passes from Steve Blake, Lucas pounded the rookie's back with his forearm and slapped at his arms as Oden worked for a shot. Nearly every time, Oden backed Lucas down and finished with a dunk, including one in which he dunked two-handed and slapped the backboard with both hands on his way down, prompting Blake to whistle an imaginary technical.
The one-on-one workout was watched intently by his teammates, and was surprising in the intensity and speed in which Oden went after Lucas. In fact, McMillan said he didn't expect to see Oden jumping and dunking.
"Yeah, I got a couple of dunks, because at the end, coach Luke was just getting out of the way,'' Oden said. "But coach (McMillan) didn't want me to go hard, because I'm not cleared to go all the way hard. It's jut me getting out there and learning the plays. But I'd like to start doing that more often.''
Get those in now Greg, because Mo wouldn't allow that to happen if you weren't still rehabbing, at least not without throwing a few elbows.
Once again, stellar news. It's been a long time coming, and there's still a long ways to go, but Greg Oden is (almost) back.
You can also check out the video of Oden dunking during the Knicks pre-game warmups.