He is more than a two-time NBA champion; he is more than a Sixth Man of the Year winner; he is more than a former Kardashian husband. He is Lamar Odom, and he still is.
On Tuesday afternoon, TMZ broke a story. The former Los Angeles Lakers star was found unconscious and fighting for his life in a Nevada brothel. He reportedly had both cocaine and a version of herbal Viagra in his system. As of Thursday night, Odom is still fighting, and while the odds still look bleak, he may very well pull through, much like he has pulled through throughout his entire life.
Many use the word “tragedy” to describe Odom’s life, but the word fails to explain everything he went through or account for just how resilient Odom has been. Sure, he has had his fair share of drug suspensions and abuse problems throughout his career, but what has remained a constant in Lamar Odom’s life has been his resolve.
And as he lays in a hospital bed, fighting for his life, it is hard to remember anything but the good times. But here’s the head fake: as more and more NBA players and friends of Odom release their stories about the former star, it is apparent that he has had almost nothing but good times.
After playing with multiple teams throughout his career, Odom could definitely be expected to have made some enemies, but it seems that no matter where he went, people loved him and grew close to him.
Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers spoke to Odom through the media, telling him that the team loved him and was with him. Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat sent his prayers. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Odom’s teammate for seven seasons and running mate during their back-to-back championships, has not left Odom’s side since he was hospitalized Tuesday.
Say what you will about Odom’s troubled off-court conduct and struggle with drugs. On the court, he has been nothing but a model person and teammate.
During the darkest years of the Lakers, when Kobe Bryant was left to fend for himself before the Pau Gasol trade and the rise of Andrew Bynum, Odom was the only other saving grace to the team. When the team finally turned itself around, Odom took home a Sixth Man of the Year Award and was arguably the second most valuable player on the 2009 and 2010 NBA Championship teams.
A couple years later, during the rise of the Los Angeles Clippers after the Chris Paul trade, Odom was an integral part of the team’s second unit, helping an otherwise young and vibrant roster with his veteran leadership.
Even during his time with the Mavericks, which was notoriously filled with drug suspensions and drama, Odom was nothing but kind and generous to the fans. One fan, a user on the NBA subreddit of Reddit, recounted a story in which he told Odom about his dying dog, only to have Odom ask him about it weeks later when they ran into each other.
Many stories like these have circulated the airwaves since Odom’s hospitalization, along with reports that Odom was attempting a comeback and was supposedly in the best shape of his life. Suffice it to say, despite losing his NBA career and Khloe Kardashian, a woman he has called his soul mate, Odom was still pulling through in every way he could.
Through the deaths of his mother, father, grandmother, son and two best friends, Odom has remained resilient and brave beyond measure. Although there is little excuse for his misconduct, Odom has remained kind and true to himself. Now it’s time for us, his fans, to be honest with him.
Lamar, while it is far from guaranteed that you will make it, one thing is certain: You are loved. I think I speak for every basketball fan lucky enough to have grown up watching you do things on the court no 6-foot-10 person has ever done. Thank you for everything.
Paolo Santamaria is a sophomore in the College. Saxa Synergy appears every Friday.
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