Lamar Odom, in the summer before he joined the Lakers, was part of that mismatched roster. And he was faded. Baked. High. Lit. Whatever term of art you wish to use for a guy who spends a lot of his time stoned. However, to play in the Olympics, he had to pass a drug test, and that was never going to happen.
So Odom went out and got a fake rubber penis, he writes in his new tell-all memoir “Darkness to Light,” which People Magazine has run an excerpt of, discussing this moment of Olympics history (hat tip NBC Sports Olympic Talk).
“…The joy of being named to the twelve-man roster quickly turned to anxiety when Olympic officials informed me that I would have to pass a drug test before officially joining the team.”
Not long after, Odom got the call from USA Basketball that the Olympic drug tester was coming to his house in a few days.
“There was absolutely no way I was going to pass. I’d been smoking weed every day that summer. Panic set in…
“We started googling ‘fake penises’ and studied different ways to beat a drug test. After an exhaustive search we ordered a giant, rubber, black c*** to arrive the next day.”
Odom then recruited his trainer, who did not do drugs, “to urinate into the reservoir of the phallus, which was hidden in the balls.” Then Odom strapped on the fake penis and was ready to go.
“I unzipped my pants and carefully slid the fake penis through the zipper hole. To get the pee to come out of the tip, I had to squeeze the shaft repeatedly.”
He handed the cup of warm trainer urine to the tester, and it all worked. Odom was in the Olympics.
The story loses some of its humor when you think about where Odom’s addictions took him, literally to death’s door on the floor of a Nevada brothel. Fortunately, he has found a path back and will be back on the court playing in the Big 3 this summer.
That summer of 2004 Odom and the USA earned a bronze medal that changed the course of USA Basketball.
The Olympics in Greece was a disaster for USA Basketball. Stars stayed away because of a genuine fear of terrorism, plus many did not want to deal with coach Larry Brown. That USA team had LeBron James but at age 19, plus Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade were also on the team but young — which went poorly with Brown as coach, he preferred veterans and didn’t like the roster makeup. The team was put together late, many of the players had never played internationally before, and then went up against an Argentinian team led by peak Manu Ginobili and a talented group of NBA-level players who had played together for years. The result was to be expected. Stephon Marbury called it the worst 38 days of his life. The USA came away with bronze.
That 2004 team forced USA Basketball to change how it did things, with Jerry Colangelo setting up a system that started with youth and rewarded participation, plus he brought in Mike Krzyzewski as coach. The attitude changed. The USA has dominated international play ever since (heading into the World Cup this summer in China, with a team coached by Gregg Popovich now).
What that 2004 team gave us were great stories. Such as Odom’s.