Los Angeles Lakers fans embrace just about everyone who puts on the purple and gold, but few players ever received the sort of unconditional support that Lamar Odom got. From his first day with team, through that awkward period when he was traded in the vetoed Chris Paul deal, and ending with him getting moved to the Dallas Mavericks – everyone who calls themselves a Lakers fan loved Odom.
The reason for this is quite simple: he is a great guy. A great guy who has had to deal with way more sadness and tragedy than anyone should ever be confronted with.
By now, everyone knows what Odom has been forced to endure over the past few months. His marriage is reportedly on the rocks. He is allegedly battling some drug problems. And unfortunately, because of his wife’s last name, he has had to deal with it all under the watchful eye of annoying TMZ reporters.
It’s hard enough to get your life back on track after a rough patch – doing it with Harvey Levin’s mindless trolls following you around makes it all but impossible.
This week, Odom was confronted by a TMZ reporter who pressed him on a meeting he reportedly had with the Lakers last week. When asked about how legit talks were, the 33-year-old played it coy. He did, however, drop this tidbit: "I can play a basketball game and probably play really well right now."
Look, there is a very good chance that Odom can’t play basketball anymore. And any team that adds him to the roster, regardless of what he says, should do it with the mindset that they’re signing the guy we saw with the Los Angeles Clippers last season and not the one who won Sixth Man of the Year just two seasons ago.
That being said: the Lakers should do their damndest to find a roster spot for Odom. Given all of the wasted slots we’ve seen given to guys who everyone knew weren’t going to play in the past, giving one to a guy who is as beloved by the fan base is Odom makes a lot of sense. Every team needs 11th and 12th guys – Odom can be one of those.
Here’s to hoping that one of the best guys to ever put on Lakers colors over the past decade gets to retire with the only franchise that ever really cared about him.