Lamar Odom was traded to the Mavericks in December 2011 as the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2010-2011 season. The 6’10” ultra-versatile forward had spent the last seven seasons in L.A. and was a vital member of the 2009, 2010 championship teams alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. When the Mavericks swept the Lakers on the way to their 2011 title, it ended the coaching career of the legendary Phil Jackson. When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement ended the lockout that delayed the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, it changed the financial landscape for the Lakers and they began to survey their options to move Odom.
He was originally set to be traded to the then New Orleans Hornets as a part of the infamously-vetoed Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade. After that trade was not completed, Odom went as far as tweeting “When a team trades u and it doesn’t go down? Now what?” The obvious level of heartbreak was there for Odom and the writing was on the wall for his future with the Lakers.
Three days after newsof the Chris Paul trade falling through and Odom threatening not to show up to the first day of Lakers training camp, he was sent to Dallas. It’s debatable that he ever really showed up.
Whether it was accidentally saying he played for the Lakers in an interview wearing a Mavericks uniform or his personal issues that led to stints in the D-League with the Texas Legends, Lamar Odom’s time in Dallas can only be described as pathetic. He averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 20 minutes per game. All three were career lows at that time in his career. After four months of trying to make it work, the Mavericks finally gave in and let Odom go on April 9, 2012 after he played just four minutes in a road loss to the Grizzlies a few nights before.
After what turned out to be Odom’s last game as a Maverick, Dirk Nowitzki had little to say about his disgruntled teammate.
“I’m done talking about that.”
Odom becoming the ultimate distraction was no longer welcomed by Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle, or the entire Mavericks organization. The team would play the final nine regular season games without Odom and finish the lockout-shortened season with a record of 36-30. They were swept by the eventual Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. It was a feeble attempt to defend the organization’s only championship and it’s hard not to trace the cause back to the lack of production and distraction caused by Lamar Odom.
If it was any comfort to Mavs fans, it wasn’t like Odom was only terrible in Dallas. He played one more NBA season in 2012-2013 with the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged a new career low 4 points in less than 20 minutes per game. It appeared Odom was done being a respectable NBA player.
As time would tell, he was almost done being a respectable human as well.
Odom would go on to have a DUI arrest in 2013 and have an on-going drug problem for several years before his separation from wife Khloe Kardashain that same year. Surprisingly, that wasn’t even rock bottom.
The infamous near-death experience for Odom at a Nevada brothel in 2015 might be what he ends up being remembered for more than anything he did on a basketball court. How did a man who seemed to have everything seemingly lose all desire to keep going? How did he just punt on continuing a professional basketball career and make so many terrible decisions that he lost everything his personal life stood on?
In an interview with Yahoo Sports recently, Odom admitted that he was devastated by being traded by the Lakers. “The trade from the Lakers basically ended my career and my purpose.”
The basketball fan in everyone should show no sympathy for Odom with those comments. Players get traded all the time. It’s part of the business. Sure, it would have been nice for Odom if he could have kept playing in Los Angeles with the likes of Kobe Bryant, but instead he got traded. Where did he get traded? He got traded to the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks! A team with a player in Dirk Nowitzki who can almost stand side by side with Kobe Bryant in terms of career success and accolades. A franchise that had won 50 or more games for a decade at the time. Was it really that bad to have to go there?
As a Mavericks fan, I’ll never forgive Lamar Odom for the way he never bought in and played his heart out for the Dallas Mavericks. It made him my least favorite basketball player on the planet for a few years. Rajon Rondo would eventually have something to say about that. I began this article ready to slam Odom and show no mercy. However, digging deeper into his story made me unable to do that.
The man has almost as tragic and depressing of a life story as you can find in professional sports. According to the video below, he lost his mother to cancer when he was just 12-years-old. In 2006, Odom lost his six month old son when he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in his crib. As the father of a thirteen month old boy right now, I often doubt that I could even carry on with my life if something were to take away my little boy. Lamar Odom did keep going and even played his best basketball after the tragedy.
In the months leading up to his arrival in Dallas, Odom was involved in a tragic accident where his driver struck and killed a young boy in New York. Odom was in New York to attend a cousin’s funeral. When it rains, it pours.
While Lamar Odom had a lot of tragedy in his life that was out of control, he had plenty of self-inflicted pain as well due to drug abuse and infidelities. However, our society is learning slowly but surely that addictions are a disease that limit a person’s ability to decipher good and bad choices. I’d like to think I’m a strong individual, but I don’t think I’d come out of losing my mother, my son and other relatives without some making some bad choices out of sorrow along the way.
Retired and 37 now, Lamar has seen his last time on a professional basketball court. That is only a fraction of his purpose on this planet, however. One can only hope that he uses the rest of it to be a devoted father to his other children and to make things right with anyone he might have hurt along the way.
Lamar Odom’s roughly four months in Dallas will go down as one of the worst stints by a player in franchise history considering the impact he could have had. I’ve spent the six years since despising Odom for his poor performance and attitude, but I’d urge everyone to go down the rabbit hole of information that can be found about the tragic life of Lamar Odom. There’s more to a man than just his time on a basketball court.
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