Miami Heat center Greg Oden took the NBA by surprise last night as he ended a four-year absence with eight minutes of action against the Washington Wizards last night, but unable to stop the reigning champions slumping to a third successive defeat.
Oden chipped in with six points in his first appearance since December 2009 as he combined two dunks with a pair of free throws, finally returning to action after 1,502 days on the sidelines with persistent injury troubles including a fractured kneecap.
The 25-year-old has been plagued by injuries ever since bursting into the NBA as a number one draft pick in 2007, with that strain still visible last night as his appearance in the second quarter came with heavy strapping on both knees.
Miami fans will be delighted to see Oden finally back on the court for a brief but important period, but their recent slump continued regardless as the Wizards boosted their play-off push with a morale-boosting win.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has a number of injury concerns which could keep Oden active in the next few weeks, with Chris Andersen and Mario Chalmers both missing last night as the defending champs struggle to keep pace with Indiana at the top of the Eastern Conference.