Commentary

Selfish Lamar Odom had to go

Former Mavs' indifference enough to give Mark Cuban a pass for confrontation

Updated: April 11, 2012, 4:04 PM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Ordinarily, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would be eviscerated for getting involved in a verbal confrontation with a player at halftime.

The locker room should always be the coach's domain. It's important for players to know the coach -- not the owner -- is in charge. Otherwise, you wind up with the kind of mess the Cowboys have had at various times during the Jerry Jones era.

Imagine what we'd be saying if Jones essentially fired a player the day after a verbal confrontation. We'd call him a meddler and say he needs an intervention to control his ego.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireLamar Odom rarely showed interest in playing hard with the Mavs, but Dirk Nowitzki took the high road and avoided bashing his ex-teammate.

But Cuban deserves a one-time pass because every rule has an exception.

Lamar Odom, one of the most infuriating players Cuban has ever dealt with, left him no choice. If you were paying someone $8.9 million and they acted like they were doing you a favor every time they went to work, it would drive any of us crazy.

Odom should have been fired -- or in this case been made inactive for the rest of the season -- when he failed to show up after the All-Star break. Finally, though, Cuban couldn't take it any more after Odom turned in yet another lackluster performance in the first half of Saturday's loss to Memphis.

"I just asked him, does he want to go for it or not? Is he in or is he out? I think he thought we were playing poker," Cuban said. "I just didn't get a commitment. And that was the end.

"Just his demeanor. You can kind of tell sometimes when a guy's not focused and ready to play. This was a big game for us, and he wasn't connecting to that. And if you're not positive energy, you're negative energy."

Odom played with indifference all season. He used his personal tragedies this offseason as a ready-made excuse for his poor play, which is shameful. His habitual tardiness is an indication he wasn't interested in being a good teammate. He was still talking about getting into top shape 13 days ago after a win over Orlando, which told us he didn't care.

Worse, his selfish attitude infected this team.

Collectively, it made the Mavs the same kind of sorry excuse-maker that Odom had become this year. They've become a club that has regularly thrown lavish pity parties and failed to compete more than once. Thirteen of their 26 losses have been by 10 points or more, including nine by 15 points or more.

Ridiculous.

Understand, this isn't about Odom being a bad human being. By all accounts, he's not. This is about being a professional. It's about having personal pride. And if Odom had a shred of decency, he'd tell Cuban not to pay him for the final nine games of the season. Or he'd donate it to charity if the National Basketball Players Association made a fuss.

Of course, that's too much like doing right.

Odom earned about $135,000 per game. By my count, Odom showed up mentally and physically for six games: wins against Phoenix and Utah in January and victories over Portland and Denver in February. He also tried in losses to Phoenix and Miami.

That's it.

So he earned $810,000 this season, by my calculations. He stole the rest, which should get him charged with a felony.

All you really need to know about Odom is not a single Mavericks player had anything good thing to say about him the past two days.

Not one.

No one ripped him, but their canned answers spoke loudly.

"Things didn't work out the way we wanted to, so I'm not going to sit here and bash one of my ex-teammates," Dirk Nowitzki said. "It is what it is. It didn't work out the way we all hoped, him too, I'm sure."

Then Dirk went on to talk about the importance of playing hard and competing, all the things Odom chose not to do.

Odom had become the worst type of distraction. Rick Carlisle and his teammates had grown weary of answering questions about him. And defending him. And dealing with his drama.

In the end, they even had to be sick of his wife's tweets in their timeline.

Perhaps now Odom can devote more time to shooting episodes of his wife's silly reality show -- the one where he stars as Lam Lam.

Who cares? Good riddance.

Odom suckered all of us. He never wanted to play this season; he just wanted Cuban's cash.

It took the owner more than three months to figure it out and end the sham.

For that, we should give him a handclap and a one-time pass.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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