BenchMob Beat: The Difference Maker

Lamar Odom squirmed in front of the camera’s bright light, wiping his forehead as beads of sweat trickled down his face, all the while trying to listen as FSN West’s Michael Eaves began his post-game interview. Eaves opened up by saying that Bobcats coach, Larry Brown, pointed to Odom’s contribution as the difference in the game. Odom shrugged upon hearing this instance of praise and was quick to explain, “I just tried to find my way to the offensive glass and make some plays… We’re a little beaten up right now… I just used my finesse and eye-hand coordination to get to the ball.”

He basically said, “I did what I had to do.” Odom didn’t break any records against the Bobcats, nor did he achieve any career stats, but just for doing what he had to do, the Lakers got what they needed — a win.

It is often noted and discussed, by basketball analysts, beat writers, play-by-play announcers, coaches and players alike, that Odom, at 6’10”, possesses a most unique combination of basketball talent, skill and ability. He is tall and lanky, able to reach over and/or across players to snatch rebounds, block shots, deflect or steal. He’s quick, with a signature play that has him grabbing a defensive board, going coast-to-coast and scoring on a fastbreak so swiftly that his defender is left wandering 60 feet away from the field goal.

His ball handling, for a player of his stature, can compete with the Chris Pauls and Tony Parkers of the league, over whom he has a clear advantage as he can see over most everyone on the court.

As a defender, Odom’s long arms and legs can hinder any opposing player’s opportunity to inbound, score or pass. He can literally play and defend any of the five positions on the floor. He is that talented.

Odom’s skills and talents, however, are often overlooked by the superstar-craving masses drawn to the cold-blooded clutch shooter, the grinning yet dominant big man, or the powder-flinging King of Cleveland. He doesn’t lead the league in any statistical category, he’s never been an All-Star, and he’s never received any regular season awards. He does, however, have that Championship ring, an honorable achievement few professional athletes can lay claim to, and he has it despite all the naysayers who have made him the poster child for underachievers.

Lamar Odom is no underachiever. One possibly cannot hope to reach this level of professional sports by expecting little from yourself. Odom expects much from himself. He just doesn’t feel the need to measure his success based on other people’s expectations of him. His own expectations are ever present. You see it in every rebound he fights for, every play he sets up, every scream he lets out when a shot falls in. You see it when he’s on the sidelines cheering his teammates on. You saw it in last year’s playoffs when, like fellow teammate Kobe Bryant, he refused to cite injury as a source of sub-par play and just vowed to play better, play harder in the next game.

Underachievers don’t promise improvement. They meander in mediocrity.

So Odom doesn’t plan on 30-point, 20-rebound, 10 assist games every night. So he’d rather help a teammate pad their stats. In the end, when the Lakers have the win, there is always one player whose box score jumps back and forth from little production to quite impressive.

Odom just plays the game and whatever is necessary to get his team a win, he’ll do it.

Against the Bobcats, he led in scoring. Other nights, he may lead in rebounds or assists. On many occasions, his +/- is the highest of the game, despite not having a box score to show for it. But what this stat essentially indicates is that the team produces when he is on the floor; they are better when he plays. He just often doesn’t get the credit for it.

So little fan fare. So much humility. This is Lamar Odom, but you can call him X-factor.

Anna Gonda has been the post-game editor for LakerNation.com since the 2009-2010 season. Between post-game reports, she's a full-time advertising coordinator for an academic publisher and a part-time photographer. Favorite Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Favorite Laker Moment: Game 7, 2010 Finals against the Boston Celtics.
  • LakeShowAllDay

    look how high lamar and those 2 bobcats jumped >:o

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      yea,they really got some air!!!!!!!!

      • KD35

        look if he drops it to shannon ? jammm!

  • drive-for-16th

    lamar better show up tomorrow too, we have to beat the fukin nuggets, The nuggets recently said that they are a better team then us.

  • lakeb

    LES GO LAMAR

  • yuppies

    well he’d better show up tomorrow especially after stepping up onto KB ankle… =p

  • Green Flannel

    See, what drives me crazy is that when kobe goes off (gets somethin like 44) the bench doesn’t neccesarily step up, but when kobe only goes for 5 the bench seems to do a lot better. We are unstoppable if the bench scores and kobe scores..thats all i was trying to say.

    • WifelovesLuke

      Basketball 101….fewer shots by kobe means others are MORE involved. More shots by kobe and other guys are just standing around. Your welcome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thejahjah?ref=profile Green Flannel

    i would love for ron to fuck up melo (not fighting) they need to show them that when we wanna win, you better know what’s up.

    • WifelovesLuke

      Too bad melo is not playing tonight. But if anyone on the Thugget team needs to be F’d up, it’s K-Mart. Dude needs a good pop in the head.

  • comeflywithme

    Better get that W tomorrow with or without Kobe!

  • http://57.amklac a Million Misses!

    so kobe got hurt?go figure.

  • berkyberks

    Odom’s skills and talents, however, are often overlooked by the superstar-craving masses drawn to the cold-blooded clutch shooter, the grinning yet dominant big man, or the powder-flinging King of Cleveland. He doesn’t lead the league in any statistical category, he’s never been an All-Star, and he’s never received any regular season awards. He does, however, have that Championship ring, an honorable achievement few professional athletes can lay claim to, and he has it despite all the naysayers who have made him the poster child for underachievers.

    because his inconsistent!

    wow nice article! keep writing co’z tommorow for sure you might wan’t to delete this! I never like this man overated inconsistent.

  • berkyberks

    did you guys notice that he played in clippers n miami? what is his achievement their? did he brought his team to promise land? until now he’s still a shadow and cannot carry a team. he was in the lakers since 04 and he can’t help kobe until pau came !!!!OVERATED!trade this alien! X(none) factor you mean!

    • Marwan Marzina

      Ok, you have a point BUT who else was on that 04′ team – Pau’s arrival? Mihm, Smush, Kwame… you get my point. Can you honestly say that you can win a game (especially a championship) with just the duo of Kobe and Odom with the rest of the team ball watching and getting out of the way? How old is Lamar now? 30. He was 24 years old when he arrived in LA, 6 years ago. That is LeBron’s age or abit younger and the comparison between these 2 at this age was that they both haven’t accomplished anything. Till Pau arrived, that complimented Lamar’s skills because now he had another great passer whom he can catch passes from and he can pass in return and trust that he can catch and finish (complete opposite of Kwame). Pau’s arrival also created openings for Lamar because Pau attracts doubles and Pau can trust that Lamar can shoot the ball at a great rate (for a big man). Before, Kobe would get triple teamed because he had no one else to pass to and he had no one else that could finish. Basically, that team was just a Kobe-Lamar team and Lamar was still young and learning where as Kobe was carrying a team of non factors which really killed his legs. Seeing how he and Lamar held out till Pau’s arrival is a great sight. And you can tell how the 2, Kobe and Lamar, play on the court, that over those 6 years it wasnt just a ‘when will these years pass by till we can get a better player’ type of years, in fact it was years of maturity and chemistry building. These 2 players are tight on and off the court and they can both compliment each other’s skills because both are great passers, great ball handlers and great shooters.
      Playing for the Clippers and Miami isn’t all that bad. Didn’t Alonzo Mourning play for Heat and he was considered a great defender with 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards. See the Nets? They are chock full of talent, but its just the talent around them, in the NBA is better. So just because they are playing in New Jersey with the worst record they are that bad? No, why is Harris still considered a great PG and Lopez a great C? You can’t really base Lamar’s history with his play. He played in Miami and Clippers but other than DWade, who else did Lamar have to compliment his great passing and create openings for Lamar? No one. Thats why he has no achievements there.
      It wasnt till he came to LA where he blossomed and that took a long time for him to do so, but it was worth the wait. Now he has 2 players that can create open looks for him from double teams, he has a great passing big man he can pass to and receive a pass from. He also has the triangle offense which utilises one of Lamar’s overlooked skills, his fantastic passing for a big man. Why does Lamar have more history with the Lakers and not Clippers or Heat? Cause Lamar has Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Ron, DFISH, and all the talent around him which can help bring out the best in him and that lead to a championship (and hopefully more).
      What about Shannon? He was considered a scrub player in Charlotte and a ‘throw in’ in trades. People didn’t want him and he had no achievements in Cleveland and Charlotte. Why is it till he came to LA that he is suddenly a great shooter and a crowd favorite and won his first ring in his first year with LA? Cause the talent around him helped bring the best in him.
      Would you like to trade him now? I certainly wouldn’t since he arrived in LA.

      • berkyberks

        who is better player pippen or lamar? kobe wins ring at 22. If he really is a great player he don’t have to wait for pau just to compliment his game. If he really is considered as a great player on his 6’10 scale why he has no special mentioned on 2005,2006 playoff…if you ask kobe secretly he would say lamar is weak! If your really a great basketball player you don’t have to wait until you gets 30 to get mentioned. he supposed to be the said pippen to kobe but his a failure until now his inconsistent.

        • http://lil_jay78.blogspot.com/ j

          I don’t understand why people continue to overlook Lamar and say how overrated he is. Basketball is a team game and he is the ultimate team player. Doesn’t demand the ball, but fills in where he’s needed. you can only have so much offense…so what you want Kobe, Pau, Bynum AND Lamar to be 20 point scorers? It’s just not possible. To have a guy like Lamar with his ability and willingness to DEFER is his true strength. He doesn’t listen to everyone that constantly hates on him, because he understands that this game is about TEAM and willingness to do what a lot of people aren’t, that’s how you win.

  • proemb

    Are you freaking kidding me with this article? This guy shows up 10% of the time and when he FINALLY has a descent game, we’re praising him like this???

    This guy is inconsistent, mentally and physically weak. “I just used my finesse…to get the ball” he says. WTF??? You are a Power Forward in the National Basketball Association! You do realize this, I hope. Finesse and Power Forward should not be mixed.

    How many lay-ups does this guy miss per game? I’m guessing his average is around 2.7 LMPG (lay-ups missed per game). BTW, why is this guy putting up weak ass left-handed layups instead of stuffing the rock in the first place?

    Free throws? Miss the first, make the second, around 50% of the time.

    Lamar Odumb is by far the most over-rated, inconsistent, mentally weak and soft player the Laker organization has seen in a long time. We all know Gasol is a muffin also, but at least he’s a lot more consistent with his soft ass muffins.

    TradeOdumb.com, can somebody please get this started?

  • http://lil_jay78.blogspot.com/ j

    2.7 layups per game? Come on man, that’s pretty random. And what does laying up vs dunking have anything to do with inconsistency? I’m not saying he should be taking layups vs dunks, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say he shows up 10% of the time. Kobe’s averaging 28 pts a game, Pau at 17, bynum at 15, and RonRon at 11; that’s 70 points a game from the starters.

    Lamar comes off the bench and is leading with about 10 points a game, playing with Jordan and Farmar. and he’s shooting about 70% from the line….so your discription of over-rated is a little bit exaggerated.

    The man is almost averaging a double-double as a sixth man. He is a starter on any other team he goes to. When he was in miami, he was a 17 and 10 guy, so obviously, he’s taken a smaller role with the Lakers, fortunately for us. He is very skilled at his height and like I’ve said before, is okay will filling up the box with whever else needs to be done…I can’t say the same for most other power forwards in this league who demand the ball, or aren’t as willing to defer as he is. What’s mentally weak about wanting to be a team player and actually excelling at it? I admit, maybe his willingness to be said team player maybe to a fault, but appreciate what you have in LO – a consumate team player.

    • proemb

      He’s weak. BTW, he may the “sixth man” but he averages around 33 minutes per game.

  • WifelovesLuke

    Boy…..you just have to type the name Odom and all the haters come out. Odom haters are just ignorant to how the game of basketball is played. They think that because he doesn’t score 20 points a game that he is inconsistent. Idiots!

    • bernzter

      Second the notion… Totally Correct there…

      If you remember there is no I in basketball and this is a TEAM GAME! So what if you have a go to guy, or if you have a superstar that beats all other superstars, he can’t do it alone!!!

      Just take a look at the Rockets! They don’t have a lot of talent but they get there, why? because they play as a team! Man, haters really show you their true colors eh? That they don’t know the true meaning of Basketball…

      Lamar, even though he’s inconsistent, even though he’s not putting up huge numbers every time he steps up the court, even though Y’ALL say he misses all of those layups, he comes to play and it shows…

      It’s much harder to go for rebounds and putbacks and dishing the dimes to your teammates day in and day out. It’s also harder to take a backseat when you know you can produce more than what you are doing right now. By y’all haters saying he doesn’t have the grit to be a Laker? B!atch please!!! Look at the different Lakers we have in the past that were willing to give up their status so that they can benefit the team… Cooper, he’s a good defender, straight up shooter, slasher, yet what did he do? He sacrificed his talent so that the Lakers showtime could continue. Please don’t be hating a man because he shows average stats…

      Remember we are all humans and good games vs bad games will arrive… The best thing to do is to make them proud of the uniform that they wear, the team that we support, the city we live in etc etc… You don’t give encouragement to the players wearing your colors by shouting trade every time the stat sheet doesn’t live up to your expectations.

      Team game, sacrifice for the betterment of the team, putting others before him, he ain’t O’Dumb or O’Dunce… He in my book is O’Great…

      2 cents given,
      Bernzter out…

      • proemb

        He’s a weak ass power forward, that’s what he is. And no, I will not silence my criticisim just because he’s wearing purple and gold.
        Do you remember what this guy did when he was Kobe’s “Pippen”? NOTHING! So this whole thing about how he’s just defering to Kobe and Gasol is nonsense. He sucked when he was the #2 option and he sucks as the #6 option. This is why the Laker bench is so bad this year.
        How many times have you heard basketball people say:
        “For the Lakers, IF ODOM PLAYES WELL, THEY’RE UNBEATABLE”. “For the Lakers, if Odom shows up, they’re impossible to beat.
        You Laker fans need to wake up and demand more from this stiff. You don’t know what you’re missing. If this guy would show up and dominate the opposition’s second unit as he should, the Lakers could challenge Jordan’s record setting Bulls. And there wouldn’t be any doubt that they would repeat.
        Lamar Odumb sucks.

        • ruxpin810

          proemb, you don’t know anything about basketball. lamar might not be the best power forward in the league, but he’s exactly the type of power forward the lakers need. we’re the defending champs, I’ll take lamar over any other pf in the league as long as we’re winning.

          • drive-for-16th

            as long as ur winning dude, cause when you win you dont see the negatives, how about when your losing, then what. the guy doesnt live up to his potential. everybody knows that. and WHY TEH FUK DO WE HAZVE BUNCH OF SALARY EATING WHITE BOYS ON THIS TEAM.

  • drive-for-16th

    WALTON IS UNDERCONTARCT FOR 3 MORE YEARS FROM 15 MILLION, VUJACIC, 1 MORE YEAR 10 MILLION INCLUDING THSI YEAR.

    • ruxpin810

      we’re the defending champs and have a good chance to repeat, i don’t care if we have all white boys.

      • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

        Amen, ruxpin810!

        And “salary-eating white boys?” Racial comment? Really?

  • http://lil_jay78.blogspot.com/ lil j

    wow…a lot of people here don’t know basketball, pretty amazing for a basketball site.

    When you have 2 2010 allstars and potentially a 3rd in Bynum, how can you expect Lamar to have all-star stats? you want 12 all-stars? Go buy NBA 2k10 and set it that up, because that’s completely unrealistic to think that way.

    We was good enough to win a championship last year, and is the best role player on the team…a willing one.