Greg Oden suited up at an NBA practice for the first time since 2009 when he took the floor at the Miami Heat's training camp in the Bahamas on Tuesday.
While he only participated in half of the practice, it was still a major step toward resurrecting his injury-marred NBA career that was once filled with major potential.
"It felt good just being out there," Oden said. "First time in a while, I'm happy I got it completed. They had to pull me off the floor. But I've got to take steps."
The last thing Oden needs is a setback that would cause him to miss time after waiting so long to get back on the floor. Now that the novelty of having take part in his first team activity has worn off, the business of basketball will be the focus moving forward. That means that the Heat will manage Oden's every move going forward.
After his participation in the first practice was complete, Oden wrapped both of his knees in ice and watched from the sidelines. It wasn't an ideal situation, but for a player who's had chronic knee issues, it's imperative that he take every precaution.
"It's step by step, practice by practice, minute by minute," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was a big bonus to have him out there. We'll meet with the trainers and see how he reacts and go from there."
The Heat could need Oden to be more than just a bonus. The center, who has averaged 9.4 point and 7.4 rebounds per game throughout his limited career, will need to play big in order to help Miami overcome their deficiencies inside. In 2012-13, the defending champions ranked 30th in total rebounds among all NBA teams and allowed their opponents the fifth-most rebounds.