Greg Oden's NBA career has been one of frustration so far. Credit: Getty Images
Jared Sullinger was sitting about five feet from one of the televisions in the Celtics locker room with a smile on his face. He was checking out Miami Heat game footage, focused on one particular player on the court: Greg Oden.
Oden is making his NBA comeback after knee issues have plagued his career from the start. Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, Oden has only played in 101 career games.
He didn't play against the Celtics Wednesday night either, as he won't play in back-to-back games this season.
But regardless, Oden is contributing on an NBA team looking to three-peat this season. Sullinger sees the improvement in his fellow Ohio State alum.
"I'm excited for him, honestly," Sullinger said. "Greg went through a lot, he went through a lot of struggles but now he's back and slowly but surely he's making plays that I've seen him make at Ohio State. So I'm happy for the guy, honestly. And the Sullinger family is big supporters of Greg. We love Greg and everything he does at Ohio State. We love him for what he did at Portland. We just want him to do extremely well."
The feeling seems mutual for Oden, who like the rest of the NBA world, has seen Sullinger really step his game up this season.
"He's getting it done," Oden said. "No matter how you like his game, he's still getting it done. He's averaging some really good numbers, and I'm happy for him."
Oden was out of Ohio State well before Sullinger arrived, but the two share a bond both having been dominant big men at the school during their time there. Oden now lives in Columbus, Ohio, the same place Sullinger grew up.
"He's a couple years younger than me, but we've been cool," Oden said of Sullinger. "I know his whole entire Ohio State family. He's just a cool dude. We're Ohio State bigs."
While both Oden and Sullinger stopped short of calling each other best buddies, the two do cross paths and keep in touch. A lot of that catching up is back at Ohio State, where the two have spent time together on the basketball court, too.
"It was a lot of fun being there," Sullinger recalls. "We still go back and play against the boys at Ohio State or we come back and play against some of the overseas guys that are still there."
But what if the two could play together someday again . . . perhaps in a green and white jersey?
Oden told Metro Boston that he had a couple meetings with the Celtics when he was a free agent, but it just didn't work out at the time. He also said, when asked, that he could see himself playing in Boston someday.
That sounds good to Sullinger.
"I would love playing with Greg," Sullinger said, while admitting that his former coach at Ohio State, Thad Matta, would probably love it more than anybody.
Not only would Sullinger be playing with a fellow Ohio State legend, he knows that with Oden in the game, he wouldn't be matched up with opposing centers.
"Yeah, exactly," Sullinger said smiling. "That's the biggest thing, he can go bang with Big Roy [Roy Hibbert], Andrew Bynum and all them."
It may not happen next season or even the one after that. But if Oden can stay healthy - a big if - he could at least make for a solid backup in Boston to a player like … Joel Embiid.