Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

Lamar Odom’s reality show not affecting his game


I’ll be up front: I don’t like to criticize other media members for their opinions. Sports should be a fun debate and if we disagree about things, so what. The vast majority of people I’ve met in this business are good people, serious and passionate, who realize we have some cool jobs.

And I like Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. The couple brief times we’ve spoken casually at events he has seemed a good guy, and I can tell you people in the media really like him.

But his column on Lamar Odom and his new reality show with both poorly thought out and crossed the line into a personal life that really was uncalled for.

In case you missed it (and I did for a day because frankly, I’ve stopped reading Plaschke regularly), he said Odom’s new reality show Khloe & Lamar was bad for Odom and the Lakers.

One of the show’s themes, even from the arrangement of names in the title, is that the Kardashian women are powerful enough to even push around an NBA star. I’m wondering how Odom can watch or hear about himself portrayed in this manner, then go out and easily become the aggressor on the basketball court….

It’s raw, it’s painful, it sometimes shows Odom as being even softer than the reputation of Pau Gasol and, as a motivational tool, it stinks.

The problem is that all actual evidence shoots this down. Plaschke may not like reality television, but he tries to pull out small sample examples to bolster his point when the larger picture shoots him down.

The Lakers went 17-1 while the reality show was being filmed and Lamar Odom kept playing well enough that he put a stranglehold on winning his first ever Sixth Man of the Year award, following the best season of his pro career.

Then the show went on the air and the Lakers didn’t play as well. The problem there is a basic causation vs. correlation problem — just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean one caused the other. There is a long history of the Lakers in the last three years going through stretches of playing poorly for weeks at a time. None of those were reality show related, they were Lakers psyche related.

If you’re trying to say a reality show made Lamar Odom an inconsistent player, then apparently he has been filming a reality show since college.

Did Odom have a bad first game of the playoffs? Yes. Name a Laker who didn’t. So Plaschke makes a connection to the reality show….

But then Odom put up 16 points in Game 2 and was one of the keys to the Lakers win. So… now what with that theory? Well, Pau Gasol had a second off game in a row, so maybe he is bothered by Odom’s reality show? Or maybe we should let the big picture play out before leaping to conclusions.

Before I wrote this, I suffered through one episode of Khloe & Lamar (and I mean suffered, that show is just bad television). My first thought is the thing seems scripted. Even the arguments seem scripted. So, just like on Around The Horn.

You know how Odom came off to me? Human. He has fights in his marriage and sometimes says things he regrets. Been there. He makes mistakes. He tries to get through as best he can. He is insecure about some things. He wants to make his wife happy. All totally different than the rest of us.

And his wife won an argument… um, yea. That’s how it works 99 percent of the time. Unless Plaschke married a mannequin he knows that.

Odom — and every NBA player — has to go through the same life crap we all do. Personal relationships can effect how we perform at work sometimes. Eve though we try not to let it. We make mistakes. We spend a lot of time dealing with the little annoyances of life when we’d rather be doing what we enjoy doing.

Odom decided to put all that out there in a reality television show. So what? There are limits to what we should read into the personal life of professional athletes, even when they put those lives out in the most public of displays.

Basically, until we see evidence that Khloe & Lamar makes Odom worse on the court, you can’t say it does. No matter how desperate for a column topic you are.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.