Former Los Angeles Lakers Sixth Man of the Year and current Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom has had a rough few months. As most are probably aware of by this point, just before the season officially tipped off Odom was involved in a botched trade to the New Orleans Hornets that was supposed to net the Lakers Chris Paul. David Stern ultimately killed the deal, but the damage had been done between Odom and his once beloved squad. He demanded a trade – and L.A. obliged.
By media day, he was already taking pictures in his new Dallas Mavericks uniform.
Odom’s recent issues, however, extend back further than the nixed trade that almost landed him in New Orleans. Over the summer, the talented big man underwent some legitimate hardships that he finally opened up about during an interview with Mark Stein of ESPN:
Left reeling by the July murder of his 24-year-old cousin and a fatal car accident days later that killed a teen pedestrian after the car he was riding in as a passenger collided with a motorcycle, Odom told ESPN.com that he had to be convinced by wife Khloe Kardashian to scrap his plans for a hiatus.
"Real close," Odom said when asked Saturday how close he came to asking the Lakers for a season-long sabbatical.
"My wife talked me out of it.
"Cause I was asking myself: 'Was I mentally prepared to play? If I didn't play well, was I mentally prepared to help the team?' I had thought, 'Maybe I need a year.' Because of the lockout, I thought, 'Maybe somebody's sending me a sign that I needed this time off.'
"(But) when I told some of my friends and my family that I was thinking about steppin' back for a minute, I think the reaction from the closest people to me kind of gave me the energy to get back at it."
That fatal car crashed involving a 15-year-old boy that Odom referenced in that ESPN piece occurred on July 14, 2011. The boy died four days later on July 18, 2011.
On July 24, 2011, New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries had a bachelor party in preparation for his looming disastrous marriage to fake reality TV star, Kim Kardashian. Here are some shots of Odom at the party (many of which you can see on the Keeping Up With the Kardashians episode that aired scenes from the party):
[Ed. Note: There is no way to slickly insert this into the actual story, so I just want to give a quick kudos to Andrew Ungvari (@drewunga) who pointed all this out on Twitter over the weekend. He’s an absolute must follow.]
You can also find more photos HERE.
There is certainly no reason to doubt whether or not Odom is telling the truth regarding how heartbroken he was over everything that transpired this past summer. He’s an absolute warrior who has had to deal with more tragic things happening to him than any other basketball player that comes to mind.
What this should do, though, is remind folks that there is a reason folks in L.A. questioned his hoops intentions and the impact of his newfound reality fame on his mindset. There is also a reason that folks wonder how much this summer’s problems are really to blame for his struggles this year.
Odom is a great guy who effortlessly and smoothly became an intricate part of the Lakers’ most recent dynasty. He’ll always be loved in L.A. just for being the quintessential good guy he was throughout. But pinning a bad start to the NBA season on tragic occurrences that sure didn’t feel like they were weighing Odom down a few months ago just doesn’t feel right.
It's beneath the standard he's set for himself.