NEW YORK — The Portland Trail Blazers got Greg Oden and felt like they won a championship.
The Seattle SuperSonics settled for Kevin Durant, thrilling fans disappointed by the trade of All-Star Ray Allen to Boston.
The Trail Blazers ended months of debate Thursday night when they chose Oden over fellow college freshman Durant with the No. 1 pick in a highly anticipated NBA draft.
Portland opted for the 7-footer who can dominate a game with his defense over the sensational scoring of Durant, who would have been the No. 1 pick in many other years after one of the most outstanding freshman seasons in NCAA history.
But franchise centers are hard to find, and most believe the Blazers got one.
“I was on the phone with the radio station back in Portland,” Oden said. “They said they stomped the floor like they won the NBA championship once they called my name.”
Fans rushed the court at the Rose Garden, where a perennial playoff team has fallen on hard times after some worse behavior. But the Blazers got Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy last year and got an early start on having next season’s winner when they grabbed Oden to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
“They did have a bad (reputation), but I think Brandon and LaMarcus kind of turned that around,” Oden said. “I hope that I can come and just push that along some more.”
Even with Durant, feelings weren’t quite the same in Seattle.
Moments after he was picked, Durant saw on TV that the SuperSonics had traded Allen, their leading scorer, to Boston. Fans booed the Allen trade at a draft party for the Sonics, who still face losing Rashard Lewis to free agency.
But the 6-9 Durant, wearing an orange tie to match Texas’ colors, doesn’t consider himself the Sonics’ savior.
“Not at all, not at all,” Durant said. “When you play since you were 8 or 9 years old, you know the game is not a one-man sport. I’m far from being a savior.”
Oden led Ohio State to the national championship game, despite never playing at full strength after surgery on his right wrist. Still, he averaged 15.7 points and shot nearly 62 percent while drawing comparisons to Bill Russell for his rebounding and shot blocking abilities.