Jan 15, 2012, 11:00 AM EDT
Lost in discussions of his mental state on the floor and history, as well as the turmoil over a rejected trade that wasn’t good for two of the three teams anyway has been the fact that Lamar Odom had a rough summer. He was driving to the funeral of a cousin when his driver accidentally hit someone with the car. It’s been a rough year. So much so that Odom told ESPN he nearly took a year off from the game:
Left reeling by the July murder of his 24-year-old cousin and a fatal car accident days later that killed a teen pedestrian after the car he was riding in as a passenger collided with a motorcycle, Odom told ESPN.com that he had to be convinced by wife Khloe Kardashian to scrap his plans for a hiatus.
“Real close,” Odom said when asked Saturday how close he came to asking the Lakers for a season-long sabbatical.
“My wife talked me out of it.
“Cause I was asking myself: ‘Was I mentally prepared to play? If I didn’t play well, was I mentally prepared to help the team?’ I had thought, ‘Maybe I need a year.’ Because of the lockout, I thought, ‘Maybe somebody’s sending me a sign that I needed this time off.’
“(But) when I told some of my friends and my family that I was thinking about steppin’ back for a minute, I think the reaction from the closest people to me kind of gave me the energy to get back at it.”
Odom also talks about how he’s no longer doing this ” for himself but for his family.” There’s definitely a separation in terms of motivation for Odom, based on both his recent experiences and the trade to Dallas.
It’s easy to get lost in the basketball aspects of the game while ignoring the very real texture of these players as human beings who go through things like anyone does in their life, albeit with more money and less struggle. But the concern with Odom is that his heart very much does not seem into it any more. His play is lethargic and his conditioning has been bad. It’s easy to point the finger and torch him from a comfortable seat in front of a computer, but clearly Odom’s hurting. Basketball is not, and has not been the most important thing in his life for some time. That has consequences on his game.
It’s not time for Odom to hang it up. But a step away might not be the worst thing for him, just to clear his head and reset his priorities. He’s been through enough to warrant it. He’s only human after all.