One team's troubled player quickly became another team's marketing promotion this week when news broke that Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom would end his personal leave by joining the D-League's Texas Legends for a home game in Frisco.
That game is tonight. Only Odom won't be there. After assigning him to the Legends on Friday, the Mavs recalled Odom on Saturday morning. According to a source, the big club -- which lost a season-high fourth game in a row Friday night at lowly New Orleans -- needs him back for tonight's home game against the Utah Jazz.
Still, for much a good chunk of Saturday morning, the Legends' home page showed a full-screen image of a smiling Odom superimposed onto a blue sky with white, fluffy clouds -- which seems all too appropriate for a player whose head has seemingly been in the clouds all season -- and imploring fans to buy tickets.
The Legends' ticket office said sales spiked with the Odom assignment. On the team's website they added an NBA Tracker, again featuring Odom's smiling face, to keep track of Odom's points, rebounds and assists as he battled the rival Austin Toros, the D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs.
Who knows if the "Khloe & Lamar" cameras were going to be on hand to capture Odom's unprecedented trip to the D-League? NBA Entertainment had plans to be there and obviously many others who bought tickets expecting to see Odom wearing a camouflage Legends uniform in honor of the franchise's second annual Military Night.
Legends president Bill Boyce and other front-office members were at the Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco early Saturday morning sorting through the change in plans and looking into how to handle Odom's call-up now that their marketing promotion will instead be playing a half-hour due south.
"Obviously, this is unprecedented for us," Boyce said. "We take customer satisfaction very seriously."
Boyce said a large crowd was expected even prior to Odom's assignment because of Military Night. Ticket sales are nearing a sellout and the franchise does not plan to put forth a formal policy for ticket buyers who purchased tickets explicitly to see Odom play.
However, Boyce and Donnie Nelson, the Legends' owner and Mavs president of basketball operations, said fans who might be disgruntled can call the Legends' main number, followed by the proper extension (available on the team's website) and Boyce will handle on a case-by-case basis.
"We'll take good care of 'em," Nelson said.
The Legends enter tonight's game riding a five-game win streak. With the aid of some big promotional nights, the Legends have drawn at or near capacity in the last three home games during the winning streak.
While the team will try to make it 6-for-6 tonight, it'll go 1-for-2 in terms of marketing promotions.