NEW YORK -- Miami Heat center Greg Oden missed two days of practice this week because of swelling on his left knee.
That hardly meant Oden had days off from the job. Not a day goes by where he isn't doing some activity to continue his slow recovery process. Oden still remains a long-term project despite recent signs of improvement.
"I don't really take a day off," Oden said. "For me, it's maintenance to this knee and maintenance to my body, because some days I'm not able to do the up-and-down stuff that they are able to do. I've got to be in the weight room, riding the bike, lifting and doing all the things I can."
Oden began experiencing the swelling on his left knee after completing his first 5-on-5 workout in more than three years. The Heat decided to hold him out of practice rather than risk further injury. The minor setback for Oden caused little concern considering what he's been through.
He hasn't played since Dec. 5, 2000 after suffering a series of career-threatening knee injuries.
"I'm fine," Oden said. "It's been 3 1/2 years for me so a little bit of swelling ... as long as there's no surgery, I'm OK. It's going to be a long season so I'm going to get there. It's just one day."
Oden said the goal is consistency. The plan is to string together consecutive practices once the swelling subsides, but take occasional days off to prevent any damage.
"It's not really a set formula for that right now," said Oden when asked when he will take days off. "It just kind of goes how the legs feel. I will see how it reacts after hard days and then we'll figure it out from there. The more days I can get going hard and the more days we can figure out what works and what doesn't work."
Perhaps most impressive is Oden's ability to remain positive during the process. He is still a few months away from the possibility of playing.
"I'm all right. I'm just icing it down," Oden said. "It's a process. I've got to figure out the ups and downs, what all I can do, how long I can do it ... It wasn't the first time (the knee swelled). I was hoping it didn't but it did. What can I do about it? Now, the next thing to do is get it back down. I've definitely got bigger goals. The best thing for me is to take it day by day."
LeBron comes up short in poll
ESPN recently polled 26 players on who they wanted to take the final shot. Eighty-eight percent chose Michael Jordan, with the remaining votes going to Kobe Bryant.
LeBron James received no mention.
"I really don't care what 35 guys in our league say about they wanting me to take the last shot or not," James said.
James said he prefers to be called a clutch player throughout the game. Still, he's made his share of winning shots.
"I've got a few game-winners in my career," James said. "I don't know. I don't let teams hang around too much for the last shot. I don't think the definition of clutch is who takes the last shot. There are guys who come through for their teams in different circumstances."
(c)2013 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services