Lamar Odom’s roots are in New York where he grew up, but after being drafted by the Clippers then eventually playing years for the Lakers, he’s a Los Angeles guy now.
Unfortunately, he became too much of a Los Angeles stereotype — marrying a Kardashian, then losing his career and almost his life to addiction.
Odom is expected to sign a one-day contract with the Lakers during training camp so he could retire a Laker. Talking to Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports, Odom talked about how the 2011 trade from the Lakers to Mavericks hastened his demise.
“That trade from the Lakers basically ended my career and purpose,” Odom told The Vertical. “I was never really myself ever again. Being in L.A., the structure, the people I knew, it hurt leaving. I had great memories with the Lakers, with Kobe and Pau. That was a special time in my life.
“I got traded the season after we lost to Dallas in the playoffs, and I had won Sixth Man of the Year for the team. To trade me after winning Sixth Man of the Year … what else do I got to do? Why?
“I think about it all the time, about how much I had left in the tank. I had issues going on. But barring injury, could I play in the NBA today? I could play. I should still be playing.”
Most professional athletes come to grips with the fact they are in a cold-hearted, cut-throat business. They don’t like it, but they understand the reality. Teams will want to pay them as little as possible (to get a good deal), they can be traded without any say in the matter, and when their play slips they will be set aside quickly. They are rewarded handsomely for that and their skill set, but it doesn’t make the business side any less cold.
But some players, emotional ones such as Odom, don’t handle that rejection well. Odom was already using drugs, but things spiraled out of control from there, ending a few years later with him on the verge of death on the floor of a Las Vegas area brothel.
He’s sober now and talking about his highlights and regrets. The entire interview with Yahoo is well worth your time. Odom, one of the most interesting players I have met covering the league, and he is opening up about his time in the league.