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.
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:
I hope my man and former Laker, Lamar Odom is doing okay.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) August 26, 2013
“@MagicJohnson: I hope my man and former Laker, Lamar Odom is doing okay.” Double ditto,LO
— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) August 27, 2013
I wish my friend @RealLamarOdom is doing well. All these rumors are really worrying me. Lamar is one of the best guys I've ever played with.
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) August 27, 2013
@RealLamarOdom don't know if you get this, but please know that Jo and I and the Clipper fans are pulling for you and believe in you.
— Ralph Lawler (@Ohmeomy) August 27, 2013
Fond memory: Lamar Odom telling me how his Hawaiian chef made Capn' Crunch-coated chicken for Laker mates in training camp. Hope LO is OK.
— Jack McCallum (@McCallum12) August 29, 2013
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.