Heat’s Greg Oden returns to court after four-year absence

Miami center Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall draft pick, played his first game in nearly four years late in the second quarter of the Heat’s 108-95 preseason road victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
Oden, who has suffered from chronic knee problems, wore a brace on his left knee when he entered the with 5:15 left in the first half. He quickly dunked a pass from Chris Bosh.
“I’m happy I’m able to walk off this court, and I’m able to play another day,” Oden said in a postgame TV interview.
“I’m happy my first shot was a dunk and I made it. I’m still getting it back. I have a long ways to go but I’m just happy to be out there.”
The 2007 first overall pick had two points, two defensive rebounds and missed two free throws before exiting 1:16 before halftime. He did not play in the second half.
Asked what was next in his road back, Oden replied: “Right now, ice. And make sure tomorrow I take care of everything I need to and make sure the swelling’s down and my knee’s good.”
Heat players were seen smiling and clapping after Oden dunked.
“The most important thing was just getting his feet wet,” assistant coach David Fizdale said during a halftime TV interview. “The kid was very excited. We were very excited for him.”
Soon after 7-foot Oden entered the game, Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted:

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.