NBA

It's tough to measure up to Greg Oden

Jason Whitlock - Greg Oden (Getty Images)
Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers poses for a portrait during NBA Media Day on Septem...
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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock writes about the sports world from every angle, including those other writers can't imagine or muster courage to address. His columns are humorous, thought-provoking, agenda-free, honest and unpredictable. E-mail him, follow his Twitter or become a fan of Jason Whitlock on Facebook.

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If you've been subjected to the distasteful, outrageous and enormous pictures of 7-foot and 10-plus-inches Greg Oden, then you now understand why there will never be an NBA Truths column.

A bitter ex-girlfriend disseminated on the Internet cellf-portraits of Oden -- an all-Big Ten performer in 2007 -- that graphically illustrate the often-injured Trail Blazers center belonged in the Big 12.

As much as I love the game of basketball -- having been raised an Indiana Pacers fan since birth and a Magic Johnson fanatic since 1979 -- I refuse to subject myself to the mental trauma of regularly visiting NBA locker rooms.

There is far more to fear inside David Stern's clubhouses than gun-toting Washington Wizards guards.

The real danger is psychological, not physical, the potential damage done to a normal man's self-confidence after spending 15 to 30 minutes a night inside shower facilities frequented by men whose midsections are just below eye level of the typical sports writer.

Honestly, after the first time I covered an NBA game back in the early 1990s, I didn't leave my apartment for a week and it took several months of counseling before I regained the necessary confidence to speak to a woman.

The experience was the equivalent of a middle-aged mother of three being dragged to the Spearmint Rhino for her husband's 40th birthday party in Las Vegas. You fly home and remove or destroy every mirror that may catch a glimpse of you exiting the shower. You sleep in sweats, long-sleeve shirts and have sex in total darkness. You forbid your significant other from ever stepping inside another strip club.

The Oden pictures bring to light a rarely-discussed mental illness plaguing longtime NBA writers and broadcasters.

Post Traumatic Size Disorder.

"It's a feeling of inadequacy that permeates every aspect of your life," said a former Houston Chronicle beat writer who covered the Twin Towers, Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. "Before I covered the Rockets, my life seemed perfect. I wasn't rich, but I was married to the love of my life and we were happy."

The retired scribe says after three or four years covering the Rockets, his wife began complaining he seemed insecure about almost everything.

"I flipped out when we went to her 20-year high school reunion and met her prom date," the former writer said. "He was the backup center on her high school team. He was 6-6 and maybe 180 pounds, a real bag of bones. You know the type. Probably hung like Secretariat."

His marriage never recovered. He turned to alcohol. He wasted thousands of dollars on male enhancement supplements. He refused to believe his wife's kind words of reassurance. Watching sports, particularly basketball, had been the bonding thread in their dating relationship. He demanded his wife never watch another basketball game -- pro, college or even high school.

It's not an uncommon story. Statistics show the divorce rate for NBA writers is nearly triple the divorce rate for NFL writers. It's not the travel. It's the wear and tear on the male psyche.

Yes, Greg Oden has rivals in NFL locker rooms. Last season, TV cameras inadvertantly revealed Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe's unfrozen rope. But there is far more diversity -- and I'm not talking about race -- in an NFL locker room than an NBA one. You have linemen and kickers.

The point is, there are confidence-boosting Terrence Codys sprinkled in amongst the NBA wannabes. Cody is the former Alabama defensive tackle who this week was photographed shirtless at the Senior Bowl, showcasing 370 pounds of glory and sporting C-cup moobs.
 

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A portly/modest sports writer can hold his head high and strut in an NFL locker room assured he's not outclassed by all of the competition. Football is a sport that is welcoming to men of all shapes and sizes. This truth constitutes the foundation of the NFL's popularity.

Basketball caters to men blessed with God-given gifts that can only be contained by a Magnum. It's un-American. It contradicts our constitutional belief that all men are created equal and have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of women 10 years younger and 10 times hotter.

The Oden pictures raise doubts about the legitimacy of the motion-in-the-ocean theory and the sincerity of women who claim there can be "too much of a good thang."

Beth Slovic, a female sports writer in Oregon, asked Oden the million-dollar question: Why was he embarrassed by the pictures when women were impressed?

It's a great question that points at the inconvenient truth.

"My wife wanted to take a cruise to celebrate our 10-year anniversary," a former Nuggets beat writer told me. "She insisted we book the biggest ship in Carnival's fleet. She said it would be more fun, more things to do. Motion in the ocean, huh? She excitedly showed me a brochure promoting the ship's extravagant and endless buffet. Too much of a good thing, huh? I filed for divorce as soon as the ship docked."

Nope. There will never be an NBA Truths column. Not written by me. That's a job for Manute Bol.

You can e-mail Jason at BallState0@aol.com or follow him on Twitter.
Tagged: Nuggets, Rockets, Pacers, Magic, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Greg Oden

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