PORTLAND, Ore. – There is a new off-the-court distraction for the Portland Trail Blazers. While Greg Oden recovers from recovers from knee surgery behind the scenes, nude photographs taken by himself are spreading like wildfire on the Internet.
The photos were first posted on a hip hop Web site, but quickly made the rounds through social networking sites. It is now confirmed that the photos showed Oden snapping at least three shots of himself in the mirror using his phone. Two of the photos show full frontal nudity.
The owner of the Web site initially publishing the photos spoke to KATU by phone, from Arizona, Tuesday afternoon. He said the pictures were submitted to his site by a woman who claimed Oden sent the photos to her. The site owner said the woman was looking to be paid. However, when he declined payment he said she handed the photos over for free.
"You think you trust somebody, [but] anything can happen as soon as you hit 'send,'" Oden said in his first statement on the matter, aired on SportsRadio 95.5 FM Tuesday evening.
"Those pictures were taken and sent over a year and a half ago...
"I've definitely learned not to do those types of things," he said in the interview. "This is a really embarrassing moment, and we all would like to move forward from it."
Later, before television cameras at the teams’ practice facility in Tualatin, Oden apologized to Blazers' fans.
“I would like to apologize to everybody, the Portland fans, and the organization," he said. "It’s very embarrassing. I’m definitely embarrassed for my family.”
Oden said his “heart dropped” when he saw the photos on the Internet Tuesday morning. “When I got up (and saw the pictures) it was very, very embarrassing and hurtful.”
He said the photos were for a private relationship with his girlfriend of the time.
“It was just for her. It was definitely meant to keep private,” he said.
Within hours of the photos circulating online, a legal notice purported to be from the general council for Oden's sports agency, BDA Sports Management, BDA Sports Management, also began circulating – demanding the photos be taken down.
KATU has formally requested a copy of the "cease and desist" statement from BDA Sports Management. A representative of the sports agency has confirmed that it did make a request to pull down the photos from the hip hop site.
Fans and commentators immediately began to weigh in on the subject as soon as news of the existence of the photos surfaced.
Radio talk-show host John Canzano, who interviewed Oden on SportsRadio 95.5 FM, said the photos are probably no different than what would be found on the cell phones of 20 year olds all across the country. However, he did say Oden needs to realize that he’s a professional athlete who is in the spotlight.
“He needs to wake up. I mean, he needs to grow up and wake up,” Canzano said. “To me, this isn’t damning. We don’t say, 'Trade Greg Oden' after this, but we certainly have to wonder about Greg Oden, the person, and his maturity level.”
At The Cheerful Tortoise near Portland State University, Oden’s pictures were a hot topic of conversation.
“I think there’s going to be maybe some short term push back with sponsors perhaps, but beyond that I think that if he keeps it straight and narrow and goes and performs, he’ll be fine,” said Michael Gray.
“It’s none of our business really,” said John Leineweber, another Blazers fan. “It’s a personal thing and never should have gone public.”
Other said just because technology gives people the tools to share, people need to make sure things that are meant to be private don’t end up in front of everyone.
“With technology, you’ve got to be careful,” said Leslie Siebert. “Stuff can get out there, and I still think it’s a private matter.”
(Correction: A previous version said the pictures had been pulled off the site. In fact, they are still there at this posting.)
Greg Oden speaks to the media at the team's Tualatin practice facility
Talk-show host John Canzano's interview with Oden on 95.5 FM