In a 2012 article on Grantland, Oden told former Ohio State teammate Mark Titus that he became an alcoholic during his second season in Portland.
“If you know anything about guys in the Air Force,” Oden explained, “it’s that they drink a ton. 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.”
It sounds like not much has changed in that regard.
Oden, who spent most of last season on the bench for the Miami Heat while recovering from his knee injuries, was arrested last month for allegedly punching his girlfriend multiple times. He has been charged with a felony and is due in court this week. He was drinking that night and his girlfriend told police Oden “sometimes gets upset when he drinks.”
In a column this week about Oden, ESPN’s Michael Wallace discussed some of the alcohol issues the center had last seaosn.
Privately, his battle with personal demons still raged, according to multiple sources. Alcohol abuse remained a concern last season as he sat out many games because of soreness in his knees and back.
He didn’t hang out with many teammates when he did travel, choosing instead to venture out alone or with friends outside of the team.
Additionally, Miami Heat reporter Ethan J. Skolnick of Bleacher Report said after traveling with the team last season, he was not surprised to learn that alcohol was involved in the domestic incident.
Not surprised, after traveling w/ Heat last season, that alcohol was allegedly involved in this: http://t.co/9PRQ3h8zxO
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) August 12, 2014
It’s really a shame with Oden. On the outside, he seems to handle the reality about being a huge bust pretty well. He’s honest about it and shares self-deprecating humor. But those are probably just attempts to mask the pain. It’s hard for anyone to live that kind of life — always injured and considered a disappointment.