Lamar Odom, for me, remains one of the most tantalizing figures in sports. Blessed with other-wordly skills and superior athleticism, Odom has superstar written all over him.
The only thing is, that although Odom is a gifted player, he has never reached the stardom that was carved out for him.
There are many possible reasons for this discrepancy, but from what I can tell, it seems to boil down to a lack of assertiveness.
It seems that Odom was destined for greatness as far back as his high school days in Queens. Lamar was a legitimate big man, that possessed all of the skills of a point guard. He had great court vision, New York City handles, was a great rebounder, and he played the game with a flair.
He was one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country, and departed the East Coast to display his skills at UNLV. This is where the story gets a little tricky.
Odom transferred from UNLV, for a variety of reasons, and then signed with Rhode Island University. Odom could have gone anywhere in America, but he chose Rhode Island, and immediately became the best player in the school's history.
Why Rhode Island? Odom was already in the spotlight, so it was obvious that his game wouldn't suffer at the smaller school.
But Odom could have went to a larger school, perhaps St. John's, where his skills would have been paired with equally talented competition.
After sitting out for a year, Odom took the Atlantic 10 by storm, very nearly accomplishing a triple-double in his college debut.
He had several notable games in college, that showcased his diversity, and had NBA scouts drooling at his potential. By the time he left school, he was one of the most accomplished players in A-10 history, and was viewed as a can't miss prospect.
He didn't disappoint, as he scored 30 points in his NBA debut, and was called the best prospect to enter the league in years.
The only problem was, Lamar never took that next step, sure he was a great player, but he was never able to live up to the talent.
As his career progressed, it became evident that while Odom would be a decent player, he would never achieve that superstar status that his skills suggested. His career numbers back this claim up, as he has averaged 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists per game since he was in the NBA.
No doubt, those are great numbers, but from Odom, you always got the feeling that he could do much more.
The argument could be made, that Odom is the most fundamentally skilled power forward in the league. I can't think of another player who has such control over such a wide variety of talent.
He is the one player, who is capable of spending some time at all five positions on the floor, and his defensive skills are underrated.
So why has all this talent never translated to superstardom?
He has all the skills of a leader, but throughout his career, he has been content to follow.
Odom makes every team that he has been with better, but as the number one option he has always failed. I have come to the conclusion that Odom never basks in the glow of the limelight, he runs from it.
He is one of the rare players who seems to be afraid of stardom and the notoriety it brings.
At times this has made Odom appear lazy, and uninterested, but I think that he is just scared of his own abilities. He was content to be a third or fourth option on the Lakers when his skills suggested that he could be the second.
He was okay with deferring to Kobe Bryant, even when circumstance dictated that he should be aggressive.
All of these things have helped shape the enigma that is Lamar Odom, or the "Candyman", as he is known to fans.
Lately he has taken a more active role in the public eye, as his contract dispute, and marriage to Khloe Kardashian would suggest.
Will the acceptance to embrace the spotlight in his private life, roll over to mean the same in the NBA?
We may never know, but what we do know is that Lamar Odom has always been on the cusp of greatness, and has never had the will or desire to reach out and snatch it.