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NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: Odom is as Odom does

Jun 11, 2010, 1:30 PM EDT

odom.pngLamar Odom is a perplexing player. He possesses an enviable skill set and considerable talent, but after a career’s worth of opportunities, roles, teams, and coaches, no one has quite found the magic button that would turn Odom into a superstar.

Juxtapose the ongoing Odom conundrum with Andrew Bynum, who is more of a conventional everyman star. Nothing about Bynum’s talent or physique suggests he’s a working class hero, but the way he’s battled through his knee injury during this playoff run makes him endearing to sports fans who cling to the warrior ideology. There’s nothing wrong with that, as valuing strength, perseverance, and resolve makes for sound living.

Nowhere is that perspective better encapsulated in today’s NBA sphere than in Kevin Ding’s excellent column for the OC Register:

[Odom] couldn’t be such a great team guy if he didn’t understand what it takes to win. He gets it. He just doesn’t want to have to do it, because it’s too much pressure to have great expectations and too hard for him to stay focused all the time. The sad reality for the Lakers is that Bynum’s knee might not be so
thick with yellow goo right now if Odom hadn’t been floating like a
butterfly out there and mindlessly drawing fouls – overburdening
Bynum’s knee – early in Games 1 and 2. Despite Odom improving in Game
3, Bynum still had 10 rebounds to Odom’s five.

He played slightly more of that game than Odom, too. That was enough
time pounding the parquet for Bynum to suffer what he called “two
tweaks,” leaving the knee weakened for Game 4. Bynum got a drop pass 53
seconds in, went up to dunk it and found himself strangely smaller than
Kevin Garnett, who blocked the shot cleanly. It’s not an issue of additional pain. Yes, sometimes the torn
cartilage pinches acutely between the bones, which hurts like heck, but
the muscles and tendons won’t fire properly at all when there’s so much

…[In Games 2 and 4], the fruit has hung there within the Candyman’s reach and gone
unclaimed in Lakers losses. As wasted an opportunity as it was Thursday night – no team has ever
blown a 3-1 NBA Finals lead, and the Lakers are 9-0 all time when
holding such situations in the championship round – this Lakers team’s
happy ending should still be out there.

That last note is a crucial one, and part of what makes Ding’s column so balanced. Rather than continuously call out Odom for what he’s not able to do and question why he can’t do it, he simply concedes that Odom’s full potential isn’t what the Lakers need to win. Because it’s not. They obviously need him be better, which Ding clearly acknowledges, but I think we’ve reached the point in our familiarity with Lamar that we can all move past ripping Odom for being what he’s not.

That’s where the conversation with Odom always goes sour, both in these playoffs and in any other. We tout stars like Kobe Bryant as being superhuman for their limitless drive and unconquerable will, and deride anything that falls short of a frankly ridiculous standard. What we’re really doing is criticizing Odom for being merely human; he’s one of basketball’s mortals, even if he is an athletic specimen and as versatile as they come.

Lamar should be playing better, but this is who he is. It’s who he always has been, and always will be. Ding’s headline reads “Bynum a tree, but Odom has been a shrub.” It’s fitting, even if Ding himself doesn’t run with the metaphor throughout. Bynum has been a tree, and Odom indeed a shrub, but that extends far beyond the limits of these finals. That’s who Bynum and Odom are. Lambasting Odom for being Odom is criticizing a shrub for not being a tree. It doesn’t make it any less true, but at this point, should anyone really expect the shrub to transform into a tree?

  1. Lion Woods - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Truth be told Lamar Kardashian Odom can be a really good player on occassion. My suggestion for a 6-10 ballhandler is to start running the court, rip and run just for fun. Watch footage of Magic Johnson’s showtime Lakers of the 80s and you will want to emulate MJ. Yes, Odom can emulate him and you have Kobe that can emulate him… and you have wing men like Shannin Brown that needs to play more minutes. Artest… what can I say. We just need you to rebound and outlet. Carry some Windex and wipe the glass clean on most every occassion. In any event, Kobe and Co., Phil Jackson and Dr. Buss. Let’s take Game 5 on Sunday in Boston then come home to LaLaLand for yet another Lakers Championship. Voila!

  2. GREG - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    maybe just maybe the reason why odom dosnt always play up to peoples expectations is because they expect to much and he realy isnt as good as people thought. maybe its not he isnt playing well enough maybe its he is playing as good as he is and the flashes of awesome are just that random flashes

  3. Scott - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Omnius has it right. Mbenga averaged a near double-double when starting 3 games early this sesson when replacing an injured Bynum.
    All they need is 8-10 minutes in each game from Mbenga.

  4. jay - Jun 12, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    odom is a solid contributor he is not great but good enough. is he supposed to be married to a victoria secret model i dont mean an old 40 year old one either. people act like he is suppose to be one of the top players in the league, i’d put his stats against most power forwards in the nba & he come out ok. his wife has some acting talent she carries that show. THEY prob raise more money for charity than all the bloggers combined. but no, lamar is never going to be the man – neither is koby – that belongs to mj & lebron.

  5. PZ - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    -I agree. Bynum’s injury is a MAJOR factor. We’ll see how he looks after 2 days rest Sunday.
    -Boston’s bench was a major factor in game 4. Doc Rivers is willing to gamble on his reserves in the early 4th quarter, when your starters need one last blow before the final push; Phil Jackson might want to do the same thing or his team might run out of gas again like it did in games 2 and 4.
    -Although I obviously don’t know either one personally, I’m suspicious of Odom’s motivations and priorities [which then speaks to his character and thus, effort on the court] in marrying one of the Kardashian girls. True love? Well, ……….maybe.
    -This is still the Lakers’ series to win or lose. The Celtics were the better team in 2008. The Lakers are now. If nothing else, they have home court advantage. IF they get a reasonably productive Bynum, and if everyone else plays their usual roles, and if they can come close to matching Boston’s intensity, they should prevail.

  6. Gary - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    I hated the fact they resigned him this past summer. Overpaid and never delivers when we need him. I agree with everything you said. He just doesn’t display the since of urgency or care to win.

  7. objectiv1 - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Too much Kardashian and parties.

  8. G - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    You obviously a Laker hater making stupid comments. You don’t even know how the spell Kobe. Check your figures before you respond. Odom’s number don’t stack up good against the other power forwards in the league. They are lower. MJ was great! Stop carrying Lebron’s jock.

  9. objectiv1 - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    The same scene in the last quarter. Kobe gets doubled, sometimes tripled and no Laker steps forward for a pass or helps out. They just stand aside and watch while he gets mugged. Kobe should know by now that he cannot draw fouls in Boston like he could on a neutral or home court. No Laker has had success with that in the last 40 years. Jerry West, I’m sure, could swear to that.

  10. penelope - Jun 12, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    hey you bitch you may be Lamar ex woman how got dumped, for you big mounth, and you are so offended by the fact the he chose a chick better than you loser.

  11. Lion Woods - Jun 12, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    Can’t we all jes get along? Go Lakers!

  12. Lakers fan - Jun 12, 2010 at 3:13 PM

    Yes she is.

  13. lakersman77 - Jun 12, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    From day one…I’ve always said and always will say, Lamar Odom is a Cream Puff. He has NO Mental Toughness. His head is never in the game. He has to play the whole game to gain any kind of traction. Coach Trophy “Jackson” is always getting on him more than anybody else behind him being a mental basket case and his cream puff defense. I’ve never supported or liked him. He always misses his freethrows and is on my all Cream Puff Team with players who have potential but never measure up. Mental Toughness is for warriors. He has the mental part town bcuz he is a head case B4 KK, before the candy binges, B4 he was at Miami. Yeah, GO LAKERS but dang if he could show up consistently this series might have already been over. 6’10” cream puff and you got a 4 foot 3 inch hood rat calling you out. Kurt Rambis would have slapped him! Michael Cooper would have gave him a head butt. Take that uniform off dude and go play in the Cream Puff League because D League even has a few riders on them teams. Lakers in 6! Kobe, do it man!

  14. Lion Woods - Jun 12, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Define superstar…

  15. C'mon... - Jun 12, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Isn’t there enough about Lamar to criticize than putting in something vulgar about his wife?

  16. Realisitically - Jun 12, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I dont know you but it clearly seems that we can be friends because I have been saying the exact same thing to everyone on my facebook page. I watch this overpaid guy( Lamar) and he doesnt even want the responsiblitiy. It seems too that when people critise him he play good for the next game and the other one following that game, he fall right back into the same old thing. So far the senior guys came through for the Lakers like KOBE, Gasol, Artest, Fisher, (Andrew with a hurt Knee) even the bench Shanon Brown and Farmar. Where the hell is Lamar Odom………… On Fanily TV shows trying to get more camera time when he should be on the court! And I think he knows it because he always look guilty as ever on the completion of each game. Did you notice that Kobe take so long to give him his hand, when he was on the floor looking in Awe in Game 4? The tape dont lie. It`s like Kobe was saying: Lamar, I dont near your real hand, I need a hand with the Ball. join me on facebook And See you at talking points online for tomorrow`s Game 5 Go Lakers!

  17. Shrek 10 - Jun 12, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    “4 foot 3 inch hood rat calling you out.”
    hey, be nice to Donkey

  18. Nobody Knows My Name - Jun 12, 2010 at 5:00 PM

    One and done; never thought he would win one, so why try hard now. Not concerned with history, not concerned with the game, just a tv star married to someone famous for being famous. gotten lazy, no longer hungry. he’s hurting us. 7 foot softy, Big Baby making him cry.

  19. Big John - Jun 12, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    As long as the lakers has got Kobe they don’t need Lamar to make big plays if he does thats great, they have Fisher,Artest,Gasol to take the slack up. Yes if Odom applied himself and focus more he might be Kode’s Scottie Pippen but the fact is he hasn’t done it in his career and he’s not about to start. So I say who cares if he wants to be a regular player who gets his 10-15 pts, 5-8rebs, so give him a break he making millions for it LOL

  20. Kool - Jun 12, 2010 at 5:51 PM

    The entire Laker bench should be traded. You can’t win without a bench. Lamar Odom is not the answer. He can’t defend. He gives up the baseline every time he’s guarding someone in the post.The rest of the bench, Brown, Farmar, Sacha, Walton and so on, are not stepping up. The Laker bench is no match for the Boston bench.
    If the Lakers don’t win the ship, TRADE THE ENTIRE BENCH!!

  21. KKDeepthroat - Jun 12, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Lamar sucks, so does KK as she could deep throat a foot long kielbasa!

  22. sandy - Jun 12, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    I like that! you wouldn’t happened to be Wentworth Miller would you?

  23. WhatevahFugitaboutit - Jun 12, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Incredible, Well, maybe not. A piece on Lamar that recognizes him for what he is; a B player, with some others on the bench. No, he isn’t great. He’s good, and when challenged by other good players, looks average. It’s the Lakers inability to develop a cohesive bench to supplement Kobe, Pau, and Derek.
    Artest is in the same boat, and the truth of the matter is that minus Bynum, the Celtics bench and bigs are wearing those B players down to C players, and Farmar, etc. haven’t developed enough to make a difference when crunch time comes calling. The team that wins game 5 will be champs.
    As far as the KK talk, gimme a break and grow up, will ya?

  24. Roy - Jun 12, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    ROTFL! OMG! That was too funny! However, although she is certainly an attention whore, Khloe is NOT ugly. I certainly wouldn’t kick her out of my bed. Kim is hotter, though. P.S. LAMAR SCROTUM! WAKE UP! THIS IS THE NBA FINALS! NOT A CROSSTOWN RIVALRY GAME WITH THE CLIPPERS, YOU DOUCHE-BAG!

  25. jw - Jun 12, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    wow, there are some classy people on this board.

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