Thanks to Cyrus Santoriello for sending us the following piece. Somewhat of a reply to Shane Bien’s We Are All Lamar Odom article.
To Trade or NOT to Trade Lamar Odom.
There isn’t an easy answer to that query. To be a better judge, you must take a close look at Lamar Odom’s life and his journey coast-to-coast. “To trade or NOT to trade Lamar” sounds almost like a Shakespearean drama. But drama has become Odom’s companion, on the court and off the court. And aside his basketball skills, Odom has the talent somehow to be at the wrong place at the wrong time:
Two years after the “Boost Money” scandal in 1997, which was blown out of proportion by the NCAA unfairly, Lamar gets drafted by the Clippers as number 4 pick. Not the right place to start an NBA career. He averaged 16-8-4 in obscurity with the Clippers, overshadowed by the Lakers’ Shaq and Kobe powerhouse and back-to-back championship for the next 3 years. Watching the Lakers’ duo hugging the Golden Ball under the champagne shower around the block, took its tool on Odom’s mind which needed altering and he gets suspended for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy for the second time in eight months in 2001.
Lamar’s ship arrives in summer of 2003 and he sails to Miami. Thrilled was the 23 years young player with a $65.Mil contract in his pocket and the prospect of receiving some decent coaching from the slick Pat Riley. Not so, just a few days before the start of the 2003-04 season, the polished coach shocked the basketball world when he stepped down as the head coach to focus more on his role as team president, shattering Odom’s hope to work with the legendary coach.
After missing 15 games due to injury, the 6.10 forward managed to improve his average to 17-10-4 and experience 13 playoffs games for the first time before getting eliminated by the Pacers in the second round in 2004.
A year later, just as he was getting used to the tropical rain and Cuban cuisine, Lamar was shipped back to LA to fill O’Neal’s big shoes and finds out that another great coach has escaped to play with Kangoroos and Koala bears. Party was over in City of Angels and Lamar had to walk over a lot of broken and dirty dishes. Too late for the party, Odom was again in the wrong place at the wrong time facing an unjustified and unfair expectation. More than he could deliver.
2005 was a confusing time for Lamar working for the frantic Rudy Tomjanovich followed by the laid-back Frank Hamblen. Finally, in summer of 2005, Lamar was given the privilege to play for the most expensive coach of NBA. Jackson’s plan for Lamar was to help to resurrect Jordan-Pippen miracle from the ashes of O’Neal-Bryant legacy. Again, wrong cast and wrong expectations. Odom is sold on the idea and does his best to please the Angelinos and dishes 19-11-5 in 05-06 season.
In summer of 2006, while his former teammates in Miami hug the Golden Ball under the champagne shower, the young father is mourning the tragic loss of his infant child with a broken heart. How much can a man take?
Lamar gets ready to average 19-13-2 in 06-07 as injuries sidelined him middle of the season, ending the best run Lakers had after the big daddy left in 04. He comes back patched up with a torn shoulder to finish the playoffs with an “I am a Keeper” season-high 33 points. Too late.
In his exit interview, he was asked by Kupchack, how would he see his future? Is it going to be the usual 16-9-5 (career)? Or could he make a habit of his last performance on May 2 in Phoenix? LO’s answer is almost the same he gave six month ago in a post game interview: “I just try to play the game of basketball and not just score”
Odom may not retire in purple and gold as he wishes. He has climbed to the top of the Lakers’ trade block not only because of his $13.Mil salary, he is an excellent all-around player, or better said, a coaches’ player.
It would be heartbreaking to see LO leave, for fans and Odom himself, but maybe both Lakers and our hero of the story could benefit from a change. Maybe he could show his real potential if he is not overshadowed by a superstar teammate, and maybe he could finally be himself and breakout of the Scottie Pippen cast.
Lamar needs a break and I hope, wherever he goes or stays, he can break out of his melodramatic mold and experience the bright side of life. Lamar deserves more appreciative teammates and less expecting audience. An audience who would let Lamar Odom do what he does best; “just play the game of basketball and not just score”.