Egos Stand in Way Of Lakers' Jerry Buss and Lamar Odom

Shaun AhmadSenior Analyst IJuly 27, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 11:  Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the second quarter against the Orlando Magic in Game Four of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 11, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  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 Elsa/Getty Images)

Jerry Buss, Lamar Odom, we get it.

We understand how both of you have bruised egos at this point and are upset about how each of you feels "spurned" by the opposite party. 

Get over it.

Odom feels that the Lakers did not show enough interest in him, that they did not pursue him hard enough, and that they didn't offer enough years in the contract offer that they presented. 

It was reported that the first deal offered was for three years and $27 million, and the subsequent deal was a four-year offer, roughly around $36 million. 

When Odom's agent didn't respond in what Jerry Buss, owner of the champion Lakers, felt was a timely fashion, Los Angeles pulled the deal off the table. Buss wanted Odom to come crawling back after testing the market, essentially apologizing for spiting him, and plead for the offer to be put back on the table.

That didn't happen. (Odom reportedly called Buss, but it is apparent that little progress was made.)

Meanwhile, the Miami Heat entered the picture and have made a huge push to sign Odom. The lead recruiter for the Heat has been Dwyane Wade, who wrote on his Twitter page that it was time for Odom to "come home." 

It's an interesting sentiment by Wade to ask Odom to sign on with Miami for a long-term deal while he himself is as non-committal as any to the Heat at this juncture. But that's neither here nor there. 

Now we sit, Monday, July 27, with Odom still pondering his future. As of yesterday, the Miami Heat have an offer of four years, $34 million compared to the Lakers' offer of four years, $36 million—the catch being the fourth year is a team option, and if the Lakers choose not to exercise it, Odom would be paid $3 million.

Basically, both teams have offered the same deal. It's essentially the same money.

The problem is the egos, the personalities, and the drama.

Here's what needs to happen.

Odom needs to get over himself and stop expecting the Lakers to roll out the red carpet for him, because let's face it, he's now a sixth man on the squad. 

Granted, he is a very important player for the defending champions. But even so, he should understand that his best chance at success (which, as you get older, is defined by the number of titles you have) is with the L.A. Lakers. 

If he wants to be a part of a team that will be a legitimate title contender for at least the next three years, he should sign his name on the dotted line on the contract that has the Lakers' letterhead embedded on it.

Buss needs to realize that he acted too quickly and too harshly by pulling the offer off the table. 

Let's not forget that the Lakers are the best team in the league, bar none, when Odom is playing well and contributing. Without Odom, the Lakers drop from a clear favorite to win the title next year to second place behind the retooled Boston Celtics

Buss should understand that this notion of "playing with the Lakers is a privilege" is nonsense. If you want to win another title, or two, your best shot is to have Odom playing with you rather than against you. 

It's time for both sides to wake up and realize that all parties maximize their potential when they are together. They are as mutually beneficial as they come. Odom plays for championships while living in Los Angeles, while Buss keeps a contending team as the favorite year after year. 

It would be devastating for Lakers fans throughout Los Angeles and across the world to wonder years from now "what could have been" had both Buss and Odom swallowed their pride and teamed up for a title run that could span several more years. It's a feeling that L.A. fans have suffered for much of the past decade.    

Memo to Buss and Odom: Grow up.