When the Portland Trailblazers drafted Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant, fans all over Oregon opened their basketball hearts and let him in.
That's what happens when someone gets introduced in your living room, or Portland's Pioneer Square, the cities' living room.
We'd just seen him lose the NCAA title game to Florida and looked forward to years of payback against the likes of Joakim Noah.
Oden was the answer for Portland big men, from Bill Walton's bad feet to Mychal Thompson's broken leg to Sam Bowie's fragile sticks.
It was love at first sight for the Blazer faithful. Oden could run. He could jump. All he needed to do was play ball.
But love is a funny thing. When it turns out right we celebrate.
This one didn't turn out right, but who guessed it would go so wrong?
The big man was special, there's no doubt. We knew, he knew it, and because of the special he got special treatment like access to Paul Allen's big room on the airplane when he needed rest.
No one wants to see someone else get preferable treatment before they've earned it, but hope was in the air. Treat him right because he was the key to championships. To quote LeBron: "Not one, not two, not three."
After a horrible injury that would make Paul George look away, Oden started an endless rehab of his broken parts. Who guessed one of the broken parts was between his ears?
Rumors of a party lifestyle came out, along with his photo skills for the ladies. Don't we all know someone who sends selfies of their self that's usually hidden under clothes? Brett Favre comes to mind.
Then the man with broken wheels starts bulking up to return to basketball, to get into the sort of shape the wins the push and shove with Shaquille O'Neal.
No one else wins that battle, but Oden was going to be the first.
The gods of basketball had other plans. One injury, then another. Portland dropped him and he flew under the radar until he showed up on the Heat. Most broken players stop in Phoenix to get better, guys like Grant Hill and Shaq. Maybe Oden was too broken even for Arizona.
Then the current news. Oden accidentally, or not, punched a woman in the face. Anyone who's been punched in the face once or twice remembers that shock.
One time in NW Portland I broke up a street fight between a man and a woman. It wasn't much of a fight, just the guy slugging the woman in the stomach, bouncing her off a Tri-Met shelter and hitting her again.
I stopped the fight with my face by leaning over and yelling at the guy. Twice. On the second lean he drilled me between the eyes and broke my new glasses.
The broken Greg Oden popped a woman and got arrested. Wouldn't you think he saw Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice dropping his girlfriend in an elevator and dragging her out like a big bag of potatoes?
Warning to men, pro athlete or weekend hacker; multi-millionaire or unemployed: Hit a woman and you're a woman beater. There's no gray area, no forgiveness. Hit a woman and you're labeled a Bad Man. Not the sort of bad man who does good things during hard times, just a bad man.
The Greg Oden of Portland was not a bad man when he left, just confused about his role in sports, the community, and life in general.
There's no room for woman punchers, no do-overs. If you're a big man you can probably take a hit from most women. And you should do it without retaliating. Take the hit and move on. If you don't know how to take a hit, here's a lesson.
The Marine Corps doesn't show you how to salute then send you to battle with your weapon. There's training first.
A local kid graduated from college, missed Marine Corps officer school by the smallest margin, then enlisted instead of feeling sorry for himself.
So far he's been to Marine bootcamp, infantry training, Recon school, the Army jump school, the Navy dive school. Right now he's in sniper school. After that he goes to SERE school.
Before he deploys to some God forsaken hell hole on earth, the Marines need to know how much he can take before he gives back. He's taken the sort of beatings you never want to volunteer for, and landed on his feet. He said the key to going into the hard life is knowing it'll suck bad, yet finding a way to work through it.
No one told Greg Oden? Is it too late?
David Gillaspie is an active researcher, skills he honed during twenty years with the Oregon Historical Society. His education wavered between English major/Fiction writer at the University of Oregon where he met Ken Kesey, to a BS in History from Portland State with news writing. Married, with two millennial sons, he connects sports and fitness to the realities of baby boomer life, with no mention ever of skydiving or base-jumping. David covers a wide variety of fascinating topics on his boomer-centric blog, Boomer PDX. Check it out -- you'll be glad you did.