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Greg Oden Was A Big Dino Radja Fan Growing Up

I am going to make a disturbing admission. As a kid, I was a Los Angeles Lakers fan. From New Jersey.

Yep, I was a frontrunner.

I have no good story to back this up like many frontrunners do ("They were the first team I ever saw on TV", "My uncle bought me a team hat and that was it"). I don't root for the Lakers today (despite now actually living in LA, go figure) but in the most formative years of my childhood, I remember rooting for the powerhouse that included Magic and Kareem as well as the scrappy Sedale Threat and Vlade Divac teams that followed.

Had I grown up in another time, who knows what team I would have frontran (acceptable verb?) with. A couple years earlier and I might have been a 76ers fan. A couple years later, I might be rooting for the Pistons. Point is, unless you just root for the team geographically located closest to you, its the team that makes the biggest impact on you in the 5 to 10 year-old age range that will be the team you root for. As a 28 year old, it just so happened that during my formative years (1983 - 1988), the Lakers and the Celtics were dominant.

Which brings us to Greg Oden. He who is 19-years-old. He who grew up in Buffalo NY. He who has some 'splainin' to do.

You see, Greg was on ESPN's First Take yesterday morning. I'll let
Sports at Random fill in the rest:

"Today on the show formerly known as Cold Pizza, we were given proof that Greg Oden is not actually 19 years old. Oden was asked what his favorite basketball team of all-time is, or something like that, and he said he grew up watching Bird's Celtic teams. Larry Bird retired in 1992 (when Oden was 4), won his last NBA title in 1986, and the last time they even made the Eastern Conference Finals with Bird was 1988, when Oden was supposedly 4 months old. If that's not proof, I don't know what is."

I Dislike Your Favorite Team gets more in-depth:

Greg was born in January of 1988, so the first playoffs he would have been alive for were the 87-88 playoffs. Boston lost in the Conference Finals to Detroit. If he were a human baby, Greg Oden would not remember that. If he were born a 36 year old man, he probably would.

During his human formative years, when one goes and decides to be a fan of a team (I'm calling that ages 7-12) Boston was one of the worst teams, if not the worst, in the country. During that stretch, seasons of 95-96 to 00-01, the Celtics won an average of 29 games. The Celtics had one good year, during the 2001-02 season (49 wins!), and have steadily slid back into craptacular.

Chances are, this is one of those fun things we're all going to blow out of proportion just becau
se we can. I mean, I guess geographically Greg didn't have too many closer options to choose from. And I suppose its possible he's just heard so many stories about Magic and Bird and had seen so much footage that he's confused himself. Hell, I swear to this day that I ate an entire platter of pigs-in-a-blanket when I was thirteen at Adam Rosenblatt's Bar Mitzvah despite no one else remembering such gorging ever taking place. It happened. I know it did. I think.

But still...if any of my friends ever heard me talk about how much I enjoyed watching Wes Unseld and the Washington Bullets growing up, they'd call shenanigans on me in a split second. And to speak so effortlessly about watching the Celts and Lake Show live, that would add at least five-six years to Greg's life and don't tell me he doesn't have the stubble to back that up. I'm not saying Greg's lying about his age, but if you found out tomorrow he was really twenty-four, would you be all that shocked?