Truth in Perspective

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 13, 2012 under Commentary | 18 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2012-01-13 at 2.52.24 PM

Lamar Odom’s integration in Dallas has been a slow, frustrating process for most parties involved. That much can be gleaned from Rick Carlisle’s disappointment in press conferences and Odom’s body language alone, before we even begin to dig into the specifics of his poor on-court performance. But even with that in mind, I don’t think many people expected Odom’s current perspective to be quite as dour as it came across in a pull-back-the-curtain piece by Chris Mannix of SI.com:

Ironically, it was a positive comment from Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle — “I thought Lamar played with a lot of energy,” he said — that brought a reporter to his locker. When told of Carlisle’s comment, Odom shrugged, his head dropping beneath his shoulders.

“I’m trying to,” Odom said, his voice trailing off.

Has it been tough?

“When you have relationships with people and there are hard times, you know how to deal with one another,” Odom said. “When you don’t, it’s obvious.”

The Mavericks desperately need an effective Odom if they hope to make a run at another title. At his best, Odom is among the game’s most versatile players, a two- or three-position big man who can score inside and out. He’s the reigning NBA Sixth Man award winner who, at 32, is still in his prime. His teammates genuinely like him, even if they don’t all necessarily know him.

Can Odom find a way to succeed in the Mavericks’ system?

“It’s hard for me to say,” Odom said. “I thought my game was equipped to play anywhere and everywhere. I’m not prepared, I guess, to play. I don’t know if there is anything more to say.”

By now, most players know the drill: hide the ego, stick to the safety of cliché, and avoid honesty at all costs.

Odom was asked how he felt about his situation in Dallas, and he violated one of those cardinal sins of media relations: he had the gall to answer honestly, and in ditching the script, he violated the robotic faux professionalism that contemporary media coverage demands. For those who have followed Odom throughout his career, this is hardly some new occurrence. The candid quote has long been Odom’s trademark, and his “Candyman” alter ego was interesting precisely of how contrary it ran to Odom as a person. He’s fun-loving, sure, but such a thoughtful player shares little else with the bag of empty, sugar-coated calories he often holds in his hand.

What I would ask of any reader (or basketball fan, or human being) is not restraint in this case, but reason. This is merely a man speaking his mind. He’s very obviously not where he wants to be right now, in locational, emotional, or basketball terms. He was asked a series of questions, and gave real, revealing answers. What he said isn’t what anyone in the Mavericks organization — or the more public ranks of Mavericks Nation — wants to hear, but it’s the truth. Hurling criticism Odom’s way isn’t going to change that, nor will it change his perspective. It’s not going erase what happened between him and the team (and city) he loved. And it’s sure as hell not going to fundamentally change who Lamar Odom is and has always been.

No matter what is said or written, Odom will still be miserable until he’s not. The Mavericks are hoping that turn comes sooner rather than later, but the only person who can really decide that is Odom.

  • http://twitter.com/KirkSeriousFace Kirk Henderson

    Obviously in a reasonable world, you're right. But sports is the world of the irrational.

    “Odom will still be miserable until he’s not.” This is maddeningly true and I think what infuriates me the most both as a fan and as a person who's had my share of hardships.  It's a choice to be happy, and Odom has had a tough go in spots, but in other areas he's also incredibly blessed.  He needs to choose to be happy or at least choose to try and be happy in order to make this situation work. 

    Yes, it sucks that, for all intents and purposes, he is a high priced rental. The new CBA does not allow him to get paid what he's worth.  But as my father always says when I bitch about something “Life is hard”. So at some point, I hope he embraces the world as it is instead of longing for the world as he wants it to be. Do the Gandhi thing Lamar, be the change you want to see in the world.

    • Toroc102

      Being happy is most definately NOT a choice.  Choosing to be happy would be called faking it.  It is a part of his personality.

      • Dom

        Being happy IS is a choice. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it's tough, but it has nothing to do with faking it. There are only two types of people in the world: optimists and pessimists. 
        Choose wisely.

  • Josh

    He'll be miserable all year, and then get a contract somewhere else. Lamar is great people and his honesty and dedication are qualities we should all seek to emulate.

  • boyer

    Not very hard to figure out.  He's not playing with Kobe.  His #'s will dramatically decrease now.  Contrary to most people's views of Kobe, his teammates usually thrive with playing with him.  Odom's FG% dramatically increased in first year with Kobe, and stayed much higher than any other year of his career.  No surprise he's playing much worse this year than last year.

  • Joe

    There's a reason the Lakers shipped him out for nothing. If Lamar isn't happy, he's not going to be an effective player. The whole situation is unfortunate, but he takes things to heart and it affects his game.

    • boyer

      Maybe, maybe not.  Some players can and will still perform at a high level when they're not happy.  But, other players will pout around and not play very hard, well, maybe most players will do this.

      The lakers are obviously worse without Odom, but they probably realized that they had very little chance to win a title with odom, so they might as well save some money and have a better plan for the future.  They certainly need to replace Odom somehow, though.  But, a healthy mcroberts is looking better than odom is so far.  How ironic it is how little the lakers thought of Odom, who was coming off of one of his best seasons, while the rest of the league/fans continually praise how underrated Odom is.  But, the truth is, Odom is mr. inconsistent and actually overrated, as he's constantly being declared underrated and still has 0 AS appearances.

      • William Head

        So the Lakers, who were about a calendar year removed from winning a title with pretty much the same team they would have had to start the season, suddenly decided that they would be better off dealing the returning 6MOY (and their most versatile player) for nothing in order to save money? You do realize that given his last season's worth of work vs. his 2012 salary Odom projected to be one the biggest values in the league (for perspective, he will make $1.9 million more than Kwame Brown this season)? Further you realize that All-Star Games are not actually a measure of accomplishment, and should in no way influence your appraisal of a player's ability/value/worth?

        Recent Mavs history says that no one looks good when they first come over to Dallas. After the Kidd trade, Mavs fans were sure Kidd was washed up. After the Butler trade, it took time to integrate. Hell, Dallas even has a hard time re-integrating their own integral players who have sustained prolonged injuries (see Howard, Josh & Beaubois, Rodrigue). Its not easy as a fan to be patient, and even tougher to be patient a year removed from breaking up a champion, but anyone who thinks trading Odom for a Euro-stash Draft Pick that will never see the light of the NBA is not a move you make 100 times out of 100 then you are just giving in to knee-jerk ESPN-style instant (uniformed) analysis. 

        If we had Odom up on the block for nothing more than a 2nd Round pick there would be 28 urgent messages on Donny's iphone right now.

        • boyer

          How aren't AS games not a measure of accomplishment?  AS are voted upon by fans and coaches.  You should look at the correlation between HOFers and AS appearances.  I think you might change your theory there.  For someone in the league for 13 years and has no AS appearances, that should tell you something.  Making $9mil for a non-AS is pretty steep.  Well, I think Kwame makes more than Derrick Rose, so what does that say?  That wasn't a very good example.  You should compare Odom to the entire league, not one player.  Not quite where you get projected values, not that they necessarily mean anything either.  And Odom was not too good in the playoffs, so I think $9mil is more than enough for him, especially considering his play so far.  Terry confirmed last year in the playoffs that he should've been 6th man

          And the lakers were swept in the 2nd round last year.  That's not even close to a title team.  I said the lakers knew they wouldn't be have much of a chance with the current(before the traded Odom), which is more or less true, so they decided to ship him out to save money and clear cap space to potentially bring someone else in eventually.  The biggest minus I see to it is that they would have a decent chance to get howard for bynum/odom, and then they would still be able to retain Pau's services.  But, they might have to ship Pau to the magic as well if the magic are willing to play ball.

          I'm not much for excuses.  Pau integrated well with the lakers immediately in 2008.  No excuse for any player not to at least play hard regardless of whoever he's.  Most of the ESPN guys are clueless, but I think the Lakers GM knows what he's doing, so I'll go with him.  His moves/non-moves have been pretty good recently in recent years.  And not many, if any, lakers' fan likes the odom trade.  We'll see what he ends up doing.  $9 mil for a bench player who plays around 20mpg.  Well, I say good luck to you.  I'll take my chances elsewhere.  Odom might be able to do a lot of things decent or average, but he only does one thing well, rebounding.  Remember, his nickname is mr. inconsistent.

          • William Head

            Josh Howard. Wally Skerb. Nick Van Exel. BJ Armstrong. Chris Gatling. All have AS game appearances. Every scrub center in the East (post-MagicShaq/pre-Dwight Howard) got a turn to represent in the AS game during the late 90s early 2000s, a list that features such future HOFs as Jamaal Magloire, Theo Ratliff and Big Z. Steve Francis has started an All-Star game. Yao Ming was voted to start last year based on 5 games of work. When he could not play, the coach's replacement was Tim Duncan, a player who, at the time, was being out performed at his position by at least 2 more deserving players (Aldridge & Z.Thomas).

            Are there great players in the All-Star game? Sure. But given the dirth of players at one position, and the abundance of players at another (like say PFs in the western conference, which happens to be Odom's position) I am suggesting that maybe you are attaching a little too much value to a fairly arbitrary and largely meaningless accolade.
            As for comparing Odom's value, based on last seasons stats, Odom was a top 20 rebounder who out performed such player$ and former/present All-Stars as Amare, Bosh, Brand (all who made/make more $).
            From a numbers standpoint, Odom's stats mirror Kevin Garnett's (for a about $12 million less). An even closer numbers comparison is Boogie Cousins, who was a top 5 pick in the most recent draft and by all accounts a beast.
            Now I'm not inclined to defend anyone who has the means and the in yet has still done nothing about this whole Kardashian infestation the country is having to deal with/get shots to contain, but really I just find that saying ESPN doesn't know what they are talking about and then bolstering that claim by clinging to something like All-Star Game appearances is sort of hypocritical. It would be like judging players value on how many times they were on dunk of the night.
            Besides, Odom's nickname is Candyman Kardashian.

          • boyer

            You have to yet to provide any real evidence as to why you think Odom is so good, other than sloppy salary #'s, which I can then counter with one in the way, such as Rose's salary.  You do realize KG was an AS and a first team all defense member last year, right?  Any GM would would trade KG for Odom would've been either not allowed to make the trade or then pretty much immediately fired.

            Like I said before, Odom's has one strength, and that's rebounding, so while your rebounding stats might be accurate, do you really think odom is better than amare and bosh?  He might be better than brand, if brand is hurt, but when he's not hurt, he's certainly not better, and brand has certainly had the better career, averaging 19 and 10.

            Again, please check the all-time AS appearances list, and let me know what's wrong with it.  All I see at the top is HOFers and future HOFers.  Are you really not seeing that?

            They do get pretty much the top 12 players from each conf. in the AS game every year with a few exceptions.  There's always going to be debate over the last 2-3 guys from each conf.  Lakers' fans were whining about Odom being an AS last year, but there were still better players who were left out as well.

            Duncan was on the best team in the west, an established star, and a better defender than aldridge, so understandable he made it over aldridge.  Aldridge had yet to establish himself as an AS or his team as a contender.  This year, that probably has changed, and duncan is much worse this year than last year.

            I'm talking about Odom's career overall.  Sure, he's had a better career than some AS.  But, he's never been an elite player or a great player.  He's only been a near AS maybe 2-3x.  Fans and coaches agree with me as he's never made the AS team.  Media agrees with me as he's never had even 1 5th place MVP vote, no all-nba teams, and only a first team all rookie and a 6th man year award, not exactly stellar awards calling for him to be a perennial AS or a great player.

            Odom has struggled as the #2 option, but when he was the #3 or #4 option in L.A. along with getting easier looks from playing alongside Kobe, he thrived.  Being a #3/#4 option is exactly yelling for greatness.  You throw out the term hypocritical pretty loosely, especially with hardly any evidence to back up your claims.  I wish Odom well, but I don't suspect him doing a whole lot this year, which is exactly what is happening.

          • boyer

            You have to yet to provide any real evidence as to why you think Odom is so good, other than sloppy salary #'s, which I can then counter with one in the way, such as Rose's salary.  You do realize KG was an AS and a first team all defense member last year, right?  Any GM would would trade KG for Odom would've been either not allowed to make the trade or then pretty much immediately fired.

            Like I said before, Odom's has one strength, and that's rebounding, so while your rebounding stats might be accurate, do you really think odom is better than amare and bosh?  He might be better than brand, if brand is hurt, but when he's not hurt, he's certainly not better, and brand has certainly had the better career, averaging 19 and 10.

            Again, please check the all-time AS appearances list, and let me know what's wrong with it.  All I see at the top is HOFers and future HOFers.  Are you really not seeing that?

            They do get pretty much the top 12 players from each conf. in the AS game every year with a few exceptions.  There's always going to be debate over the last 2-3 guys from each conf.  Lakers' fans were whining about Odom being an AS last year, but there were still better players who were left out as well.

            Duncan was on the best team in the west, an established star, and a better defender than aldridge, so understandable he made it over aldridge.  Aldridge had yet to establish himself as an AS or his team as a contender.  This year, that probably has changed, and duncan is much worse this year than last year.

            I'm talking about Odom's career overall.  Sure, he's had a better career than some AS.  But, he's never been an elite player or a great player.  He's only been a near AS maybe 2-3x.  Fans and coaches agree with me as he's never made the AS team.  Media agrees with me as he's never had even 1 5th place MVP vote, no all-nba teams, and only a first team all rookie and a 6th man year award, not exactly stellar awards calling for him to be a perennial AS or a great player.

            Odom has struggled as the #2 option, but when he was the #3 or #4 option in L.A. along with getting easier looks from playing alongside Kobe, he thrived.  Being a #3/#4 option is exactly yelling for greatness.  You throw out the term hypocritical pretty loosely, especially with hardly any evidence to back up your claims.  I wish Odom well, but I don't suspect him doing a whole lot this year, which is exactly what is happening.

          • William Head

            i'll boil it down:

            KG made $21 million and put up a 14/9 for a team that got bounced in the 2nd round of the playoffs.
            Lamar Odom made $9 million and put up a 14/9 for a team that got bounced in the 2nd round of the playoffs.
            If I was a GM and had to pay someone for a 14/9 to get bounced in the 2nd Round of the playoffs, I would probably lean towards paying the guy who makes $9 million.
            Now is comparing KG to Odom apples to apples- of course not, but just extrapolating some key stats and trying to figure out what those stats are worth, you can see that Odom's production the last couple years outperforms the market value of his contract. If you fail to see this then I am just going to assume you are trying to remain obtuse.
            I don't see why production vs. cost of production is such a complicated issue to grasp. 
            And yes, I've seen Amare Stoudmire play basketball. Lamar Odom has a more versatile and more valuable skill set than STAT and given STATs usage rate vs his salary, I would definitely rather have Kardashian.

          • boyer

            Well, if you're talking about salary along with talent level, then maybe. I was talking salary when comparing individual players.  Who cares what the salary is?  They might have similar #'s, but nobody who works in the league would ever say Odom is better than KG.  KG was obviously a lot better than Odom for the reasons I already mentioned.  Now, if you're trying to set up a team, then that's different, and salary is a factor, but you brought up salary, not me.  And just because KG's salary is inflated doesn't mean Odom's isn't.

            Where's this market value evidence you keep talking about?  Obviously, Odom's market value isn't too great if the lakers feel they're better off without him and their best offer was  a future 1st round pick(protected) sometime as late as 6 years from now and a trade exception that may or may not be used.  That should tell you everything you need to know about Odom's market value.

            Apparently, NBA fans/coaches/media all disagree with you about Odom vs. Amare as Amare has 6 AS, 4 player of the month conf. awards, 1 1st team all-nba, and 4 2nd team all-nba compared to 1 conf. player of the month and 1 6th man award for Odom.

  • Luv2purple

    Lamar should have manned up and he would still be a Laker.

  • boyer

    You have to yet to provide any real evidence as to why you think Odom is so good, other than sloppy salary #'s, which I can then counter with one in the way, such as Rose's salary.  You do realize KG was an AS and a first team all defense member last year, right?  Any GM would would trade KG for Odom would've been either not allowed to make the trade or then pretty much immediately fired.

    Like I said before, Odom's has one strength, and that's rebounding, so while your rebounding stats might be accurate, do you really think odom is better than amare and bosh?  He might be better than brand, if brand is hurt, but when he's not hurt, he's certainly not better, and brand has certainly had the better career, averaging 19 and 10.

    Again, please check the all-time AS appearances list, and let me know what's wrong with it.  All I see at the top is HOFers and future HOFers.  Are you really not seeing that?

    They do get pretty much the top 12 players from each conf. in the AS game every year with a few exceptions.  There's always going to be debate over the last 2-3 guys from each conf.  Lakers' fans were whining about Odom being an AS last year, but there were still better players who were left out as well.

    Duncan was on the best team in the west, an established star, and a better defender than aldridge, so understandable he made it over aldridge.  Aldridge had yet to establish himself as an AS or his team as a contender.  This year, that probably has changed, and duncan is much worse this year than last year.

    I'm talking about Odom's career overall.  Sure, he's had a better career than some AS.  But, he's never been an elite player or a great player.  He's only been a near AS maybe 2-3x.  Fans and coaches agree with me as he's never made the AS team.  Media agrees with me as he's never had even 1 5th place MVP vote, no all-nba teams, and only a first team all rookie and a 6th man year award, not exactly stellar awards calling for him to be a perennial AS or a great player.

    Odom has struggled as the #2 option, but when he was the #3 or #4 option in L.A. along with getting easier looks from playing alongside Kobe, he thrived.  Being a #3/#4 option is exactly yelling for greatness.  You throw out the term hypocritical pretty loosely, especially with hardly any evidence to back up your claims.  I wish Odom well, but I don't suspect him doing a whole lot this year, which is exactly what is happening.

  • Kevin

    I think he will come around. He is in a very good locker room!  As a basketball player he is in there with quite a few people he cant help but respect(Kidd,Dirk, Carter).

    My opinion the turning point for him will be Thursday when they play LA. 

    If he stops crying in his Cherrios he literally can be the reason the Mavs can make a run at a repeat.

  • Pingback: Lamar Odom: Dealing with the Fall Out of Trade to Mavericks | Lakers Nation