Greg Oden sees first NBA action in 4 years in Heat preseason game

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since Dec. 5, 2009, Greg Oden played professional basketball Wednesday night in New Orleans.

Instead of earning accolades and adoring fans for his on-court brilliance, Greg Oden spent the past four years simply trying to appear in a professional basketball game. On Wednesday, that finally happened as the former No. 1 pick came off the bench in the Miami Heat's 108-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

For Oden, even those few minutes in the game Wednesday night stood as an incredible accomplishment. After spending the past 46 months battling recurring injuries, major surgical procedures and against-the-odds rehab efforts, his return isn't simply impressive, it's essentially unprecedented.

To put a cherry on the happy moment, the man once destined for greatness managed a powerful slam dunk on his first offensive possession:

That would ultimately be the highlight of Oden's night, as the remainder of his four minutes included two rebounds, two personal fouls, two turnovers and two missed free throws. But on a night when Oden's box score filled with so many small numbers, the very fact that he's listed at all stands as something amazing.

From those few minutes, considering the rust he's shaking off his game after all this time, you could see how Oden's size and strength might make him a pretty imposing presence for Miami in small doses. At the very least, entering the regular season, there are reasons to believe Oden could end up helping this team down the road.

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