My own (microfractured) knee-jerk tendency to yell “Sam Bowie” each time poor Greg Oden suffers another physical setback aside, the Banged-Up Buckeye’s recent misadventures are as tragic as things can get (when you’re still guaranteed millions of dollars). That said, who amongst us would dare speculate whether or not Oden gives a hoot that his hoops career is in tatters? Who else but the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey, who along with holding Portland somewhat accountable for Oden’s condition, uses a fairly dusty, hard to substantiate story about the ailing center to…well, what, exactly? Smear a guy who might require a miracle to ever become a top-flight pro?

A couple of NBA players who have known Oden since the 2005 ABCD camp offer a different perspective on his injuries. One thinks the 7-footer’s knee problems are interconnected — but concedes they’re probably not linked to a July ’07 tonsillectomy or a July ’06 right wrist repair — and stem from the Blazers’ insistence he bulk-up starting from the day he was drafted.

“He got too big, too huge and too fast. His frame and legs couldn’t handle that extra weight,” one player theorizes.

Then again, you can’t ignore a sixth grade hip surgery that left one of Oden’s legs shorter than the other, resulting in his unusual gait which is often mistaken for a limp.

“He bulked up and everything changed,” reiterated one player.

Who knows, maybe deep down, consciously or subconsciously, maybe Oden isn’t as torn up as all of us think at the distinct possibility he may have peaked in the sandbox and be forced to retire?

I throw that out there because one of the above players says he remembers shooting around one morning with Oden at that ’05 ABCD Camp and being stunned when Greg declared: “I just want to get a house in Vermont with my family and be left alone.”