While the Trail Blazers were on the clock with the No. — pick in the NBA Draft, thousands of fans gathered in Portland started chanting "We want Oden!"
The Blazers gave their fans the wish, but that was just the start.
The Blazers took the 7-foot-center out of Ohio State, ending weeks of speculation about whether they'd choose Oden or versatile forward Kevin Durant out of Texas.
"I think that someday we can win an NBA championship," Oden said. "That's what I'm striving for."
After selecting Oden, the Blazers were dealing. They sent forward Zach Randolph, Fred Jones and Dan Dickau to the Knicks for Channing Frye and Steve Francis.
They also acquired Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez, the No. 24 pick, from Phoenix for cash, and then traded with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 30th pick, Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen.
General manager Kevin Pritchard suggested another deal for a small forward was in the works, but he could not discuss it further, saying it would not be formalized for about a week to 10 days.
At the Rose Garden, where the Blazers threw a draft party, Oden was the clear favorite hours before the choice was made Thursday. One fan held a sign that said: "There is a greGODen."
"It was a no-brainer," said fan Eric Botteron of Portland. "Welcome to the Garden of Oden!"
After NBA commissioner David Stern announced the selection, Blazers fans rushed the court and cheered in a frenzied scrum.
"I wished I was there. I would be right in the middle, jumping up and down," Oden said.
Oden said Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard called him five minutes before he heard his name.
"I could barely hear him &
all I could hear was 'You're going to be our guy,'" Oden said, adding that Pritchard also said: "Act surprised."
Portland beat the odds with the selection. They had just a 5.3 percent chance of securing the top pick when the draft lottery was held back on May 22.
Since then there's been a flurry of activity within the franchise and a heightening anticipation among fans. Could Oden spell the return of Rip City, a term coined when the Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977?
Portland had the No. — pick for the first time since 1978, when they chose center Mychal Thompson of Minnesota. The Blazers also had the top pick in 1974, when they took Bill Walton, and in 1972, when they chose LaRue Martin.
Oden, despite being hampered by a wrist injury, averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks while leading Ohio State to the national championship game as a freshman.
The Blazers scheduled a rally for noon today in downtown Portland to introduce Oden to the city. Oden said he was scheduled to get on a plane in New York at midnight.
Last year Portland made six draft-day moves, landing talented first-rounders Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Sergio Rodriguez.
The infusion of young talent has brought renewed interest in the Blazers, who had several down years on and off the court.
There was player misconduct and arrests, earning the team the nickname "Jail Blazers." Then owner Paul Allen suggested the team might be sold because it was hemorrhaging money.
But the franchise began a transformation last year at this time largely because of the addition of Roy, who went on to be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year. Allen reacquired the Rose Garden (he had relinquished control of it in 2004 by declaring it bankrupt), improving the team's financial situation.
Then came the No. — pick.
"We started with one thing, who is going to get us to the championship level," general manager Kevin Pritchard said.
Since the draft lottery was held, the Blazers have sold more than 3,500 season tickets.
"I can't wait for next season to start," said fan Curtis Nettles of Portland. "Blazer Mania is back."
The Blazers added to their roster in the second round, taking Josh McRoberts, a forward out of Duke, with the 37th overall pick. With the 52nd pick Portland took Taurean Green out of Florida, and added Demetris Nichols, a forward from Syracuse, with the 53rd pick.
The Blazers dealt Nichols to the Knicks for a future second-round pick as part of the Randolph trade.
Randolph was Portland's top scorer and rebounder last season, averaging 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 68 games. He had hand surgery late in the season and missed the team's final 10 games.
"We felt like with Zach, he's a heck of a player. He's probably going to be an All-Star in the East. But with (Greg) Oden and LaMarcus (Aldridge) and Channing Frye we have a group of young guys we can build around. ... We felt we were going in a different direction," Pritchard said.
Frye, the eighth pick in the 2005 draft, was a first-team All-Rookie selection. He averaged 9.5 points last season, frequently settling for outside shots instead of using his 6-foot-11 body in the post.
Francis averaged 11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 44 games with the Knicks.
The Blazers traded the 42nd overall selection, guard-forward Derrick ars from Vanderbilt, to the 76ers for Koponen.
Oden in, Randolph out