Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  March 31, 2011

From Joey Whelan, Hardwood ParoxysmYears from now we may look back on Lamar Odom as the tragic figure of the 2010-2011 NBA season, locked in a perpetual grey area of explanation. Defining the nature of the 31-year-old Laker veteran is akin to defining the role with which he is most often associated – 6th man. It’s a position that has evolved with time but still remains vague in characterization, existing only within the context of “player has come off the bench more times than he has started” nomenclature. Odom has reached a point in his ever changing career where his talent and production levels seemingly eclipse what we consider to be the boundaries of a so-called “role player” and in doing so has subsequently left himself suspended in basketball purgatory. The easy and immediate argument for those opposed to the awarding of 6th Man of the Year to a player of Odom’s status and ability is the simple fact that he is on pace to start more games than any previous recipient. He so closely toes the line for that hard cutoff of playing time that many are inclined to simply push him over the edge into full fledged starter. Yet, it is the fact that Odom, as a result of his timely and elite level of play, shatters our preconceptions of what a player off the bench can be. This – not the number of starts – is truly the decisive factor in the publics’ decisive opinion.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: A Cardinal, an Archbishop, and an E! camera crew walk into a practice… Sounds like the setup for a joke — not necessarily one you’d hear outside the Catskills, though a joke nonetheless — but Wednesday in El Segundo it was reality for the Lakers. Among those inside the gym watching practice were Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima. (I suppose if any two people can be trusted not to reveal the game plan for Thursday’s test against the Mavs, it’s these guys.) Then, after the doors opened to the rest of us, the esteemed pairing was joined by a gaggle of production types filming Lamar Odom for his reality show.

From SoCalGal, Silver Screen and Roll: Lamar Odom has been called many things, including the most unselfish, most versatile, and most underrated player in the NBA. He’s been called the toughest matchup, the guy who makes the Lakers the hardest team to beat. Lakers fans love him, his teammates love him–he’s the emotional center of the team, sports writers love him, Jeff Van Gundy loves him, Khloe Kardashian loves him. What’s not to love? Lamar spent his early years as a Lakers player trying to be the second option to Kobe Bryant, a role he never really seemed comfortable with. In fact, to my eyes he didn’t seem to want to be “here”, meaning playing basketball. Don’t get me wrong, I think he loved the game, but the pressure was probably too much. He also seemed to be easily taken out of a game mentally, particularly when he got into foul trouble. You’d see his head drop and you knew it was over, even in the first quarter. Mind you, this is what I saw, but it may not be what was actually happening. At any rate, it was frustrating to watch, but I stuck by Lamar, hoping things would get better. Thank heavens the Lakers did too.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Each time Lakers forward Ron Artest patrolled the sideline, an anxious George Lopez awaited him. The Lakers entered the first extra session in what became a 139-137 triple overtime victory last week against the Phoenix Suns, but Artest promised the game would end soon. He and Lopez wanted to immediately head to the Beacher’s Madhouse Theater at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood where they’d film a music video to their newly released single, “Go Loco.” But that had to wait, with each overtime fueling even more uncertainty they would pull it off. The second overtime prompted Artest to promise Lopez the game wouldn’t last longer. It did. Then the third overtime didn’t end until shortly after 11 p.m, meaning Artest’s two- to three-hour music-video shoot lasted until 7:30 a.m.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: The concept still becomes difficult for Lakers forward Lamar Odom to grasp. He remains in serious contention for winning the NBA’s Sixth Man award, yet he acknowledged he’d never envision being in the running for such an honor in the first place after the Clippers selected him as the No. 4 pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. Even when the Lakers acquired him in 2004 from Miami as part of the Shaquille O’Neal trade, Odom didn’t see this scenario happening. He was considered the Scottie Pippen type player to Kobe Bryant, but a failed playoff appearance that season and two first-round exits in 2006 and 2007 eventually spurred the Lakers to acquire Pau Gasol on Feb. 2008. That sent Odom to the bench, a permanent spot Coach Phil Jackson wanted him to embrace as the 2008-09 season opened.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: The Lakers didn’t appeal to a higher power Wednesday, though Archbishop Jose Gomez was at their practice, as was Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani from Peru, taking in a scrimmage from folding courtside chairs. Gomez used to be a San Antonio Spurs supporter but switched allegiances after taking over leadership of the L.A. Archdiocese this month. “A lot of people were praying and telling me to switch from the Spurs to the Lakers. Prayers work. Now I’m a Lakers fan,” Gomez said. “I’m also praying for the Spurs, but a sign from God is that the Lakers are playing much better.”

Phillip Barnett