Some Thoughts on Lamar Odom

Darius Soriano —  September 2, 2013

There are people in various corners of the NBA map trying to help the man right now. We’re talking former teammates and coaches and a clutch of confidants who don’t want their names out there because they’re not looking for attention for their efforts. All they want to see is Lamar Joseph Odom dislodge himself at last from one of the scariest downward spirals to engulf an NBA player in the 21st century.

(via Marc Stein: Odom Roller Coaster in a down cycle)

For the most part, I try to keep these pages about basketball and what happens on the court. It’s the spirit this site was founded on and, over time, I’ve enjoyed keeping the discourse focused on what we see on the court and finding inspiration in those things to fuel the discussion between the writers and those who read, comment, and are a part of this community.

That said, sometimes things off the court have a way of taking hold of your attention and not letting go. Sometimes that’s a good thing…other times, not as much.

I don’t know what’s going on with Lamar Odom. The rumors are ugly. The reports based in fact aren’t much better. Whatever is going on with him, though, has me concerned. And I’m not the only one:

That’s quite a list of supporters. A legendary player, a former coach (and legend in his own right), a teammate, an announcer, and a reporter. All expressing concern, all just wanting the best for Odom. Not as a player, but as a man.

I join that group.

This isn’t about basketball. At least not really.

The reason why many of us care is because basketball has provided a vehicle for us to appreciate Odom. I can’t claim to be as close to Odom as those people referenced above, but I can claim to be captured and affected by Odom in a way that transcends what he did on that 94′ by 50′ piece of hardwood.

Odom’s is a story of perseverance and redemption. The fact that basketball was the backdrop for this story simply allowed many more people to be part of his journey.

A common theme of his life has been seeing others around him die. His mother. His Grandmother. An infant. A cousin. A man struck by a car he was a passenger in. This list is likely even longer.

Another theme is how, early in his career (and even later, if we’re being honest), he was seen as a player who was squandering his talent. But Odom turned around his career. First in Miami and then with the Lakers. His success on the court then became a symbol of his strength as a man, of how one can endure and conquer the demons that find a nesting place in people who have seen more tragedy than what can be deemed their fair share.

Today it seems Odom is back to losing that battle with those demons. This saddens me in ways I didn’t think I could be by a person who I have no real connection to besides what he did on a basketball court or said in media scrums in front of a locker.

I could probably go on and on about what Odom meant to me as a player or how much his presence on those Lakers’ teams mattered. But, to be honest, that is of little consequence right now. I simply want my favorite lefty to rediscover some peace in his life. Even if, based off his history, it will probably be only fleeting.

Darius Soriano

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16 responses to Some Thoughts on Lamar Odom

  1. Darius, thanks so much for this post.

    There’s a legion of people pulling for LO and wishing him well, and we can only hope he finds his way.

  2. Very sad to see anyone going down so fast. Having said that my heart goes out to the Champ Lamar Odom and I wish him a speedy recovery from this.I can only Pray for him to find his way back before is to late.#Fight #NeverGiveUp

  3. Great piece, a sentiment many fans understand and support. Let’s hope the best for LO.

  4. If the rumors are correct this isn’t just Lamar dealing with his demons. Oxy is no joke. So in some sense this could be basketball related. For if this is the case, his first encounter with the drug was a prescription to manage the pain associated with a sports injury. I understand some pain is so acute that there is no alternative to Oxy. At the same time, a doctor prescribing the drug must almost assume the patient will become addicted to the drug and is ethically bound to have a plan to get the patient off the drug once the pain subsides

  5. Prayers and hope for LO

  6. Thanks for this article, Darius.

    Lamar Odom please come home! Come home to the person that you were during your time with the Lakers. Don’t let past demons steal away from you all that you accomplished during your tenure with the Lakers. Fight, fight against the odds and return to the happy smiling man that is still inside of you.

    #Lakersfamily

  7. Thanks Darius,
    For Lamar – there are thousands, if not millions, of us who just want you to see your life get back on track. You are the only one who can determine what that track is, but we all wish you the best.

  8. I never personally knew LO. I always saw him around the community. He genuinely seems like a very good person. One of the best ppl in the NBA. WISH HIM THE BEST.

  9. Hoping for the best for LO. My most angry day as a Laker fan was the day we traded him.

    One difference between Doc Rivers, and MD is that Doc has a ring, and MD does not. AJ does a good job of summing up another difference below (RS interview):
    “He hasn’t sugarcoated anything,” Jamison said. “He said, ‘I want you to come in and help out these guys, let them know what you see out there on the court. I’m not going to promise you a certain amount of minutes a game but you will get an opportunity to play.’
    That’s not exactly the relationship Jamison had with Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni last season, when he was given no explanation for why he completely fell out of the rotation for a stretch in late December.

  10. L.O. Please get the help you need. Thankful as a lakers fan for your time wearing the purple and gold. I saw in you the heart of a warrior, please release that warrior mentality now and put your life back on track!!! Always ROOTING FOR YOU!

  11. Can’t stand the purple and gold but got nothing but love and prayers for my main man . Queens stand up LO

  12. Robert,

    The TPE they got for Odom was turned into Nash, and Nash was brought in as the surrogate for Paul, to try to keep Howard. In addition, Odom fell off a cliff performance-wise after the deal. Keeping Odom and Fisher would not have changed anything. That team’s run ended in 2011.

    As to Rivers and MDA, we know where you are on that one. You should probably give it a rest until the games start. or unless someone says something about it. The fact that Paul wanted Rivers so badly speaks well of Rivers and he is known as a communicator, but we have covered that. Also, it is easy for Jamison not to sweat playing time a month before training camp.

  13. To clarify what I said above, my point is that I don’t think the Please-get-some-help-LO thread is the best place for getting into D’Antoni’s handling of Antawn Jamison, sort of like the shots at Kobe in the Happy-Birthday-Mamba thread.

  14. I don’t have technical knowledge of addiction. It doesn’t matter. I do know personal demons and how sneakily they enter our bodies and act within them, like a virus, injecting their identity into us and making them inseparable from our own. I don’t know where any of this goes for LO, but that can be the case for any of us. We wake up today, take our kids to school, and who knows what happens? I’m about to go play ball with a buddy of mine who was with his family on mid-Wilshire during the shooting there on Sunday afternoon. Missed him by inches. The point is, we just don’t know how long we will share this space with each other and I would like LO to know that I am thankful that we have shared this planet with each other. While I had joy watching him express his gifts, I know he had joy as well. He may pull out from these troubles, and it is good he has people who want to support him through it, but we just don’t know what will happen. I do know I have love for Lamar Odom and hope he knows his life has been noticed and appreciated.

  15. Well said Darius!

  16. LO, though no one can go back and make a brand new start, we can all start from today and make a brand new ending.