Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history, has admitted he became an alcoholic during his second year in the league.
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In a wide-ranging interview with his former Ohio State teammate Mark Titus for the website Grantland, Oden also admitted it "sucked" seeing Kevin Durant succeed — given the Oklahoma City star went at No. 2 in the same draft in 2007 — and that he planned to make a return in 2013-14 once his knee is back to full strength.
Oden, 24, had five knee surgeries in his time in Portland — three of them microfracture surgeries — and appeared in just 82 games before being released in March. He has not played a game since Dec. 2009.
The 7ft (2.13m) center said he had alcohol problems in his second year with the Trail Blazers, after his cousin from the US Air Force moved in with him in Portland.
"If you know anything about guys in the Air Force, it’s that they drink a ton," Oden said.
"My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it, too.
"When I played well, I’d drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I’d drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic."
Oden said he found it difficult watching Durant dominate, knowing that it could have been him.
"I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t suck to see Durant doing so well," he said.
"But that doesn’t mean I dislike him as a person or anything like that. He’s a good guy and one of the three best players in the league right now. The only reason it hurts to watch him play is because I know that if I got the chance to show what I’ve got, I could be making All-Star teams like he and [No. 3 pick Al] Horford are, too."
Oden’s plan now is take the entire 2012-13 season off and move back to Columbus, Ohio, to focus on rehab in the view to earning an NBA contract the following season.
No NBA player has ever returned from three microfracture surgeries.