The championship Laker teams of 2009-10 were at their most dangerous when Lamar Odom had the juice. You had Kobe, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum(when healthy), but Lamar was the piece that took them over the top. When he was feeling it he would snatch a rebound with those catchers-gloved-sized mitts, and high step his way down the lane in transition like a gazelle, taking it to the hole on whichever bum stood in his path.He always had the power to take the lakers over the top – if he wanted to. Some nights he just wouldn’t make an impact because he played too passively. He tried playing a supporting role when the Lakers needed him to be aggressive. Being a stone cold killer wasn’t in his DNA like with Kobe and Michael. He was gregarious and sensitive to other people’s needs, always the favorite guy in the locker room. He wanted to make others happy and create a jovial atmosphere and because he came from an environment of such negativity and hardship. You had to have guys like that on the team to balance out the assassins. By the time Lamar became an adult he had experienced an inordinate amount of sadness in his young life, maybe that’s why he always wanted to be the one to bring joy to others.To start things off his father was a heroin addict, and his mother died of colon cancer when he was 12. According to an article in Sports Illustrated, his mother’s last words to him were “Be nice to everybody”. Lamar’s has stated in the past that his father wasn’t there for him when he was growing up, Lamar didn’t want to totally cut his disabled father dry – he has helped him out financially through the years, but things were always complicated between them. On top of the suffering he experienced with his parents, in 2006, his infant son died of SID (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Misfortune followed Lamar like a curse, but things seemed to look up when he was winning with the Lakers.He was playing for Miami when was sent to the Lakers in the Shaq trade. After Pau Gasol arrived in LA in 2008, Odom started thriving as a 6th man, winning two championships with the Lakers and the 6th Man of the Year award in the 2011-12 season. That all went off the rails when the Lakers tried to trade him and Pau to the Hornets for Chris Paul. In an unprecedented move, Commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade for…..”basketball reasons”. The trade was canceled and Pau and Odom were still sitting there awkwardly on the roster. Odom took offense and demanded that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak trade him. The move was a loss for both sides because the Lakers were worse off, and Odom’s career tanked after that.He played for a couple more teams then he fell out of the league. However, he was thrust back into the national spotlight when he almost died from an overdose in a Nevada brothel. A lot of Laker fans knew the trouble Odom had been through and were sympathetic, but this event garnered sympathy for him from the entire media, even going beyond the sports realm. Nobody wanted to see the versatile power forward who brought so much joy to the fans and people around him self-destruct like this. People in his inner circle debated whether it was the infamous trade or the reality show with then-wife Khloe Kardashian that pushed him over the edge. Khloe tried divorcing Lamar a couple years before his near-death experience, but Lamar wouldn’t sign to finalize the papers. She put the drama aside and came rushing to his aid at the hospital where he was recovering. Because she was still married to him, she had to make medical decisions on his behalf. People speculated if they were going to get back together, but it didn’t end up materializing. She’s been dating since the incident and supports Lamar, but doesn’t want to get back together with him.Thankfully, Lamar made a full physical recovery. These days he keeps a lower profile. However, he reappeared in the news when he collapsed at a club in Los Angeles, sparking rumors of another uncontrollable spiral. He made an appearance at Kobe’s jersey retirement ceremony at Staples Center, and it was great to see him in the building again. He was such an amazing 6th man for the team, and when he was hitting 3s, grabbing crucial rebounds, and making flashy assists in crunch time you knew there was little chance they would lose. Lakers fans will always remember him as the smooth operator who for a couple years, could take the team from a great one to a God Tier on the right night.
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