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Lamar Odom, Mavs Part Ways: Odom Reminds Us Not to Judge a Book by Its Cover

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Lamar Odom, Mavs Part Ways: Odom Reminds Us Not to Judge a Book by Its Cover
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Dallas Mavericks fans will no longer have to choose between cheering or booing Lamar Odom.

The Mavs and Odom spent the holiday weekend sorting through their issues, and ESPN's Marc Stein reports that both parties have agreed it best for Odom to step away from the team. The agreement allows Odom to leave the team immediately but does not release him:

"The Mavericks and I have mutually agreed that it's in the best interest of both parties for me to step away from the team," Odom said in a statement to ESPN.com. "I'm sorry that things didn't work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs' organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship."

Sources said Monday that Odom's departure will be immediate and that the Mavericks intend to simply list him as inactive for the rest of the season instead of outright releasing him, leaving open the possibility that they could still trade him after the season in conjunction with the draft. Any team that has Odom on its roster as of June 29 must buy him out by that date for $2.4 million or otherwise accept responsibility for the full $8.2 million that Odom is scheduled to earn in 2012-13.

Because Odom was on the Mavericks roster past the March 23 deadline, he will be ineligible to play in the postseason for any other team. Stein reported that a source close to Odom said the move will allow him to clear his head and get ready for next season.

Wow. 

To call Odom's season in Dallas a struggle would be an understatement. After being blindsided by the Lakers in a trade for Chris Paul that didn't end up going through, Odom found himself in Dallas with a new team and a heavy heart. 

It's hard not to feel for him. Of course he gets paid a lot of money to play a game. Of course the professional thing to do would be to suit up and do his best to perform when he's called upon. Sometimes, a person's personal life takes priority over profession. Odom hadn't integrated himself into the Mavericks' rotation and wasn't happy in Dallas. That's only the beginning, though.

After a summer that saw him lose his 24-year-old cousin and then be a passenger in a car that struck and killed a teen pedestrian while in New York for his cousin's funeral, Odom has things that are deeper than basketball tucked away inside.

On the surface, he's lived an incredibly charmed life. From Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., Odom survived a tough childhood to prosper athletically and make it into the NBA. Bouncing around from the Clippers to the Heat and then to the Lakers, Odom settled into life in Los Angeles the second time around. He is just one year removed from winning the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award. He met and fell in love with a Kardashian and has a reality television show.

He is a reminder to us all that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Odom's story is filled with extraordinary highs, so many of them that those of us reading often get blinded by the dollar signs and cameras flashing. While there has been good, there's been plenty of bad—more sorrow than any 32-year-old should have had to endure.

He's been enduring since the death of his own mother when he was 12 years old. He's continued to endure through the death of the grandmother who raised him and then through the horrifying loss of his seven-month-old son to sudden infant death syndrome two years later.

Odom's story is about survival. Surviving what life gives and takes. Sometimes, it can be too much. After everything Odom has battled through, if he needs time, let's allow him that time with understanding and compassion. Sometimes, time is the only answer.

While it's unfortunate that this didn't work out as the Mavericks had hoped, this is bigger than basketball. If Odom needs to work through things to get himself right, he needs to do that. He needs to take care of himself. Money can buy lots of things, but it can't bring back the time and people we've lost.

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