London 2012: Coach K Is Crazy to Consider Lamar Odom for Team USA

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IMay 18, 2012

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 25:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Dallas Mavericks leaves the court after being ejected during the NBA season opening game at American Airlines Center on December 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Lamar Odom’s most recent headline probably read something quirky and unethically comical about his appearance on the Khloe and Lamar show. Aside from the fact that he lost the title battle as an NBA star to his reality star wife, Odom is about to begin a new journey after being cut from the Dallas Mavericks.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski—Coach K—has made a puzzling statement concerning the possibility of Odom closing out the 12-man roster for Team USA, according to a tweet from Olympic writer Kate Hairopoulos:

Coach K reiterates that Lamar Odom will be in Olympic training camp. He's part of team pool; has played well internationally previously

The only question that is posed against Odom is not his ability to come into camp or a game physically prepared. He remains in pretty good shape, although he gained a bit of weight in the offseason before his disappointing stint with the Mavericks. Odom is not physically incapable of being a good basketball player.

Emotionally and mentally prepared, however, is a totally different story that brings about an enterprise of concerns.

Odom’s career landed him square in Texas, and it was so disappointing to see that he had lost a step or two mentally more than anything else. He was dejected and played like there was something else on his mind—something more than basketball.

That is the problem.

To say that Odom is playing for a seemingly more important moment would be ludicrous. In Dallas, he was playing for his livelihood and his reputation. There was an abundance of reports questioning his mental stability, and it appeared that no matter how much his body willed him to perform, his mind would defeat him almost immediately.

A basketball player’s most important task on the hardwood is basketball. Regardless of any other circumstances, barring death or any other brash misfortune, basketball is the No. 1 priority when a player suits up and is called to duty.

Odom’s inability to focus over an extended period of time with the Mavericks, even with the continued support of his new teammates and coaching staff, shows that his motivation is no longer a given.

If you look at Odom’s season statistically, it was not a complete disaster. There were actually rare showings in which fans assumed Odom was back again. Then there would be nothing. Complete and utter tank job.

He went from sustaining excellence with the Los Angeles Lakers to being an annoyance with the Mavericks. Coach K expects him to be ready to repair his image on the court, but the Olympics is not a place to include someone as repeatedly defeated as Odom showed himself to be.

Credit should be given where it is due, and Lamar Odom was an incredible asset to Team USA in the past. However, this is not about repaying a favor. It is the Olympics, and Coach K has never sacrificed the will of a team and its victory to show compassion.

Odom was not ready for life without the Los Angeles Lakers, and he is not ready for the Olympics.