Greg Oden is taking it slow in his return to basketball. (J. Pat Carter / AP)


For the first time in almost four years, Greg Oden played in an NBA game Wednesday night.

His appearance was brief, lasting just under 4 minutes, but emphatic and encouraging as the former No. 1 draft pick took a pass and dunked it in the Miami Heat’s 108-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans.  Oden, who has been plagued by catastrophic knee injuries over his career, has been brought along slowly by the Heat, who were happy with what they saw.

Oden, who’s only 25 and has been through multiple knee surgeries, has played in only 82 games. This one may not have counted in the standings, but it did in so many other ways.

“In December it would be four years, so four minutes, that’s enough for me,” Oden said (via ESPN). “As long as I got out there and I walked off and I’m healthy, that’s all that matters.

“I know the guys were happy for me. I definitely felt love. And I’m excited that they were there for me.”