Lamar Odom: Dallas Mavericks' Mess Is All His Fault (and You Too, Kardashians)
Sometimes a good cry is the best thing for pent-up misery.
Or if you're a writer, you can let it all hang out—but if you want to further your career, you have to play nice.
I don't wanna play nice right now. The Mavericks' problems remind me of a Saturday morning cartoon of a snowball. I'm waiting for that "everything happens for the best" happy ending, but it's a slow train comin' right now.
I've tried to indulge in a little intellectual honesty by giving a fair analysis of the events of the past two summers, and see if there are any conclusions to be drawn based on the patterns of a decade of Mark Cuban. I was hoping I could continue resisting that feeling in my gut that, sooner or later, Mavericks fans are going to have to face the reality that the city of Dallas may have another owner with um...issues…besides Jerry Jones.
I'm not sure I can handle an emotional divorce from the Mavericks similar to the one I had with the Cowboys, which scarred me forever. So I've been digging up all the ugly not-so-secret secrets from the past in order to ease my mind, and the only way to do that is blame someone else besides Cuban and the front office.
After exhaustive research, I have concluded that it's all Lamar's fault.
If you don't know how I feel about the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of the Mavericks championship roster, I think I've been clear.
But forget about all that. I was confident Mark and Donnie had a plan, and they did. These men are immersed in the sport, and Donnie is paid lots of money to be smarter than the average bear. It might not be perfect, but by bringing in the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, surely things would be OK.
I'm not a Lakers fan, but I've always respected Lamar Odom. Here's a guy who coped with a rather difficult childhood and went on to great success. His career stats are solid—over 14 points, nearly nine rebounds and a whopping four assists per game as a forward, which made him a great facilitator for Phil Jackson's triangle offense.
Lamar was generally regarded as having a superior all-around game: capable of playing inside or outside, a solid defender, a high basketball IQ, individual honors and two championship rings.
Plus, gosh darn it...people like him!
I've admittedly been a frequent engineer on the "Bashin' the Kardashians" train, but my girlfriend, who is neither a basketball afficionado nor a devotee of the KKKKK, had nonetheless happened to catch a couple of episodes of Khloe & Lamar.
When I asked her about him, she proclaimed "I love Lamar!"
"Wow," I thought, "great player, great guy...terrific! We're saved!"
The rest of the story we all know.
Some say Lamar was an odd fit for Dallas without a little creativity; you didn't want him cutting into Dirk's minutes substantially, but his skill set could easily have allowed him to back up both Dirk and Shawn Marion at the 3. As a "point forward," he could also have helped run the offense sans Barea—and his defense would not have been a substitute for Tyson Chandler, but certainly could have helped Dallas up front.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened, and I'm not sure why. Surely, Lamar can afford a good therapist, but, for that matter, lighting it up for the Mavericks could have been the best therapy of all.
What would have happened if Lamar had come in at 100 percent? God forbid, 110 percent?
I've heard stories of players who leave teams they feel jilted by (hello, Steve Nash) and rise even higher. After all, isn't success the best revenge? What would have been a better way to punish the Lakers than by making sure the Mavs beat the tar out of them and advanced further in the playoffs?
Yes, I had fantasies that we would stroll into L.A., Odom would have a huge night, and we would have (gasp) a second straight year of being able to tell Laker fans, "In your face!"
But it was not to be...instead, the season dragged on reminiscent of the very soap opera that Lamar had married into.
It turned out we had the wrong Kardashian—the Mavericks should have kept Kris Humphries, who, in the midst of all the emotional upheavals one would expect from his unholy matrimony to Lamar's sister-in-law, still managed to have a career season. Wow, I guess Kris just figured out how to man up and be a professional. What a concept!
Players often may not live up to expectations. Of course, that would constitute the understatement of the decade in this case.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
In the business world, if you don't measure up you may get fired or perhaps your performance-based compensation is affected when you don't do your job. Basketball works that way, doesn't it?
Surely, justice will be served! Surely, in NBA contracts, there's a "you have to give a rat's ass for the team" clause, right? And if you don't, there are penalties and public floggings, and you get tarred and feathered, and in Dallas, you have to be a water boy for Jerry Jones, yes?
Go directly to jail—do not pass go and do not get collect $200.
No, even after it got so bad that Mark Cuban confronted Lamar about his motivation. Things went downhill from there, and the Mavericks decided it was better to have the bad karma out of the locker room than to continue an exercise in futility.
I understand Lamar entered the season after a bad summer fraught with personal problems. I don't wish to exploit his pain for pseudo-journalistic purposes, but the fact is we all have problems, and most of us aren't living the dream of playing in the NBA and making seven figures.
He came to Dallas out of shape, apparently devoid of motivation and bitter at being traded from Hollywood to those lowly Mavericks who had only won one championship.
After a year in which his cousin was murdered and other personal issues affected him so severely, maybe Lamar deserves a break. The question is, how much slack do we cut him?
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Tim Thomas admirably left the Mavericks in 2010 to take care of his ailing wife. In contrast, much to the chagrin of most everyone, including the ever-loquacious Charles Barkley, Lamar didn't have to file for unemployment and still got paid—even though his behavior and his play were so anemic that the team literally had to ask him to please just go away.
With career lows by far in almost every category, while still whining behind the scenes about not getting enough playing time, he still pocketed almost $1 million the rest of the season for doing diddly squat.
And as Chuck said (per ESPN): “I always pull for the players, but the fact that they’ve got to pay him I think is a joke. He didn’t earn it at all..he doesn't deserve to get paid for what he put out there this year.”
Maybe we should have seen this coming.
Long since forgotten with his good fortune was the original exodus from L.A., which wasn't too pleasant either. Lamar began his career in L.A. with the Clippers, and, despite putting up good numbers, he didn't stick around. Elgin Baylor had to decide between several up-and-coming young stars and basically punted on Odom because of "issues of character and other risks involved" (per ESPN's Keith Arnovitz).
And, on the flip side, it was so bad for Odom that his perception was that he was leaving "basketball hell."
This reminds me of those Internet memes about well-loved house cats, who have ostensibly the best life in the world, yet secretly sit around thinking about how they are tormented by their captors.
And after ascending to the league's elite list of power forwards, becoming Sixth Man of the Year and collecting two rings, things turned sour with the Lakers as well. Arnovitz describes the circumstances around the emotional devastation of a trade that never even materialized:
Odom was devastated in December when he was included in the post-lockout trade that would have sent him from the Lakers to New Orleans. He was so distraught that, when the deal wasn't consummated, the Lakers felt compelled to send him away to Dallas for nothing rather than deal with the emotional fallout. In Dallas, Odom found another basketball hell, one of his own creation.
Well played, Lakers! Lamar, we hardly knew you, and now you get to leave Dallas basketball hell—still a few million dollars richer.
And what did Lamar presumably want most? To go back to L.A., of course!
Why be stuck in that hayseed wasteland of Dallas? Lo and behold, it appears they got what they wanted. Lamar gets to go back to L.A. after all and play for the Clippers again. He'll probably play well and that will be basketball hell for a lot of us.
I can't say I care much for the Lakers, and I always hoped the Clippers would rise to rival them. I'm sure I'm not alone in that and it's been a long wait...so when they started to assemble a group of talented and pretty cool guys, I was ready to finally enjoy them.
I even tweeted Caron Butler that I was sorry to see him go, but at least he would be playing for my new second-favorite team.
Now I have to wrestle with how to feel about the man who almost single-handedly torpedoed the Mavs last season going to a different team I enjoy watching.
I guess it could be worse; thank Gawd, he won't be on the Olympic team. Having mixed feelings about Team USA would really have been unpleasant.
So all I can say is, "Lamar, must you ruin everything??"
Now I have to consult with Mr. Cuban and tell him that, while I did not support his booing campaign aimed at Michael Finley, and I've never been big on booing any players—with the possible exceptions of the ones who play dirty—I will be volunteering to spearhead the protests when you comes to town.
I can see it now: Occupy American Airlines Center.
And now they cancel "Khloe and Lamar" so you can concentrate on the NBA. That's swell.
In the big scheme of things, it's pretty hard to know how to feel. After all, Lamar and Khloe appear to have the only healthy relationship in that trio of terror and it doesn't look as if that sits very well with anyone else. I guess dealing with his in-laws is punishment enough and I'll just have to throw my barbs in cyberspace to make myself feel better.
Because it really was all Lamar's fault.
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