PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -Brand-new Trail Blazers center Greg Oden quickly got a feel for life in Portland - it rained.
The 7-foot center out of Ohio State, wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with his last name, was introduced Friday to Blazers fans at a lunchtime rally, some 16 hours after the team took him with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
``I'm loving it here, and I'm going to have a smile on my face for a long time to come,'' Oden said.
A few thousand fans chanted Oden's name when he arrived at downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square on the city's light-rail system. Oden acknowledged the cheers by bowing to the crowd.
``This is crazier than New York,'' said Oden, accompanied to Portland by his parents, brother and girlfriend.
After taking Oden with the top pick, the Blazers made headlines on draft night by sending forward Zach Randolph, Fred Jones and Dan Dickau to the New York Knicks for Channing Frye and Steve Francis.
General manager Kevin Pritchard envisioned a Blazers front court with Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Frye.
``It's going to be a great ride,'' Pritchard said at the rally.
The infusion of young talent has Portland fans excited. Even before the Blazers selected Oden, the team had sold more than 3,500 season tickets. Some 6,000 fans went to the Rose Garden on draft night and rushed the court in celebration when Oden's name was announced.
Nicknamed the Jail Blazers years ago because of player misconduct, the team began a transformation last year when the Blazers got Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Sergio Rodriguez on a busy draft day.
Roy went on to be the NBA's Rookie of the Year. Might Oden be next?
``Rip City is back,'' said Pritchard, referring to the term coined when the Blazers won the national championship in 1977.

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail OKC aims to spring stunner on Golden State Oklahoma City’s six-game road trip isn’t off to a great start. So what are the Thunder’s chances of actually keeping pace with the Warriors this evening?
Thumbnail Bucks vs. Rockets Prediction Are the Rockets a good bet to cover tonight against the Bucks following their loss last night to the Heat?
Thumbnail Trail Blazers vs. Hornets Prediction Will the Hornets snap their current five-game losing streak when they host the Trail Blazers tonight at 7:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Raptors vs. 76ers Prediction The Raptors are road favorites tonight in Philadelphia at 7:00PM ET. Will they cover against the Sixers?
Thumbnail Hawks vs. Pistons Pick Can the Atlanta Hawks continue their winning ways when they take on the Detroit Pistons tonight at 8PM ET?
Advertisement

NBA Team Pages