Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Lamar Odom, feeling fresh, believes he's back
By Jeff Caplan
Oh Lamar, we hardly knew ye, and it is most unfortunate that we will never know the real Lamar Odom the way the Los Angeles Lakers once did and maybe, just maybe, the way the Los Angeles Clippers, your new, old team, will.
As you met the L.A. media Monday with a smile for your re-introduction to the market, it became so obvious: You are healthier, happier and in a better place. Your silly reality TV show and the daily dreaded pressures it piled on you (you don't want to admit it, but it's OK, I won't tell Khloe) is off the air. On a more serious note, the mentally and physically crippling personal tragedies you endured last summer have been purged.
Basketball now is your sole focus. So much so that you are considering pulling out of representing our great country, built on courage and an honest day's work, in the Olympics later this month to instead work with the Clippers' trainers. It's going to be a great year, Lamar.
"Personally it feels like there's some unfinished business as a Clipper," Odom, who started his career with the Clips and left in an ugly divorce, said during his press conference. "I've got to watch them build what many consider now a program, build tradition with key players such as Blake (Griffin) and Chris (Paul). They've built it from the ground up and they've built it the right way. There's a lot of the same people around. But obviously you can feel that it's different here."
It was certainly different for you in Dallas, a geographically flat city and your expansive condo at the W Hotel with an ocean-less view. It was a destination that a drooping Odom never wanted or requested. Depression followed him and we all know how the saga unfolded. After owner Mark Cuban finally banished the unproductive forward from the team in early April they finally rid him from the roster last week in a four-team trade that shipped him back to his beloved L.A., not to Kobe's Lakers, but to CP3's emerging Clippers.
"Sometimes we go through things in life that hold us back. But you won't ever see that again," Odom said. "I've put that behind me and now it's time to move forward. It's time to be fresh and get back to that aggressive style of basketball I was playing when I did win Sixth Man of the Year (with the Lakers in 2011)."
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said the other day that he expects a big, big year from Odom, and then added, "One year too late."