(shaking my head…)
There is no NBA player I am rooting for to have great professional success than Greg Oden.
He was a high school phenom from my own home state of Indiana, he led Ohio State on a scintillating NCAA Tournament run during his one year in school, and he has presented an affable, gregarious personality in public that has won him over fans across the country.
But someone needs to talk to Greg about this little thing called the Internet, and why he should view it as an absolute deterrent from doing things like sending chicks nude photos of himself.
In case you haven’t heard, there are pictures floating around the Interwebs purported to be of the Blazers’ 7-foot center, who is currently injured and not playing. For reasons that should be obvious, I am not posting the pictures here.
If seeing very tall men taking cell phone pictures of themselves in front of a mirror while naked is your thing, follow this link (NSFW) to see the purported nude pics of Greg Oden.
More important than the pictures themselves, and whether they even are of Oden or not, this provides yet another lesson that athletes and celebrities everywhere need to pay close attention to: anything that is recorded electronically can blow up on the Internet in less time than it would take the Blazers to complete a single NBA game.
This is why I cannot, for the life of me, understand why an athlete of Greg Oden’s stature and notoriety would take nude pictures of himself and send them anywhere to anyone over any device.
And it’s not just athletes who should be careful. Everyone needs to proceed with caution online when their name or image is involved. The Internet is a wonderful tool with more benefits than can be fathomed and limitless potential; however, it is also a place where positive images can turn negative quickly and where one misstep can be permanently engraved on a person’s reputation into perpetuity.
Fortunately for Greg Oden, something this innocuous and irrelevant will not have any long-lasting effect on his image. I would imagine, though, that he and his family are probably none too pleased that his man parts are online for anyone to see. His future wife might not be all that excited about it either.
And on a more macro scale, hopefully it is one more event that can teach Oden’s peers and the rest of us a more general lesson regarding Internet privacy.
The fact of the matter is that “Internet privacy” is an oxymoron; it doesn’t exist. The sooner we all realize that, the less likely each of us is to be spooked by the ‘Net’s most persistent Boogey-man.
(Quick aside: Admit it, when you read the title of this post, you thought I was going to make some sophomoric joke about Oden’s magic johnson. Or about how inferior most of our readers will feel if they click over and view the pics. But I didn’t. Aren’t you proud of me?)
Update: I just published this a few minutes ago, but it occurred to me that the purported nude photos of Greg Oden could turn out to be of someone else. And if that’s the case, it will prove only one thing: that I should not have directly addressed Oden with this post. Certainly everything else herein would still be relevant.
I work in social media and reputation management and see people get burned time and again by not taking control of their online reputation and by being careless. Don’t let it happen to you.
Another Update: Just came across the picture of Greg Oden below at Sports, Crackle, Pop. This should further solidify what I said above.
Oden no doubt has plans to continue being a product pitchman and to craft a good-guy image that will lend itself well to endorsements, and that I don’t doubt is legitimate and not a front. Having your picture taken wearing shirts like this – while funny and cool to many of us – is probably not, however, the best way to be a mature steward of your endorsement future.
In fairness, who knows when this picture was taken, and we all probably saw or wore much worse while in college. But Oden has been a celebrity since high school and probably should have been on guard for this kind of thing all through his college days. My personal opinion of Greg Oden isn’t changed because of this picture or the nude photos, but the opinions of other people could be.
It’s not something that should completely rule your life if you’re a celebrity like Oden, and you still have to go out, have fun, and be yourself, but it is something that should influence your decisions.
Neither the picture below nor the nude photos makes Greg Oden a bad person in any way, but something tells me he regrets that they are out there, and there really should be no more motivation necessary than that to consider the consequences any time you do something that could one day end up online.