On the heels of playing his first NBA game in nearly four years, Greg Oden said Friday he will be ready if needed for the Miami Heat's season opener Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls. Oden is doubtful to play in the Heat's preseason finale Friday against the Brooklyn Nets, but the 7-foot center participated in Miami's Friday morning shootaround and also went through a workout during the team's off day Thursday. The sessions came after Oden's emotional return to the court during a four-minute stint in the first half of the Heat's exhibition win in New Orleans. Oden dunked on his first play in the game and finished with two points, two rebounds and a block during his brief stint alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. "I'm still standing and I'm happy, so let's just keep building from that," Oden told ESPN.com Friday. "The first step was the other night (in New Orleans), the second step was Thursday and the next step was today. So let's just keep getting better and moving on from there." Although Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Oden continues to progress ahead of schedule with the Heat in his comeback from multiple knee surgeries, the team vows to work from a specific schedule that diligently monitors his condition. When told of Oden's desire to get back on the court again Tuesday, Spoelstra smiled and said, "Yeah, we'll see." Oden said he was still hearing from friends and former teammates from around the league who saw highlights from Wednesday's game, which was his first on an NBA court since Dec. 5, 2009, when he was with Portland and suffered his second season-ending knee injury. Chronic knee problems have limited Oden to 82 career games since he was selected No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft. Despite Oden's ambition to get back on the court as soon as possible, Spoelstra revealed Friday that the Heat's trainers and doctors are working from an established schedule that balances days Oden works with needed recovery time. For example, because Oden played Wednesday and then completed consecutive days of practice or conditioning work, the schedule calls for a break in action to see how his knees respond. Oden said there were no complications or unexpected discomfort after three extensive days of work.
Oden upbeat on availability for Heat opener
ESPN | Oct 25