Sunday, 11 December 2011


A Seventh Sin.

By Tim David Harvey

In what seems like an NBA minute, Lamar Odom has gone from throwing elbows at the Dallas Mavericks to possibly throwing champagne, championship party with them next season. After almost joining Pau Gasol in a 'Sternly' nixed package deal that would have brought Chris Paul to Lakerland, Lamar Odom is now taking his understandably hurt feelings and his Kardashian down to Texas. Sure the former Laker champion will have to watch the team that swept him receive their championship rings that could have been his to begin his Christmas Day and new season but still, the Lakers loss looks like Dallas and their new Mavericks gain.

After a horrible end to a disappointing season the bright lights of L.A. didn’t have many bright spots in their 2010/2011 defending champion year. Except for the consistency of Lamar Odom and his own victorious 'Sixth Man of the Year' award however. It has been clear for many years that this microwave, bench warmer deserves more credit and it's almost a given that he'll be an all-star in no time. It's the next logical step. The Hollywood smooth, reality star, big-game, big-name sharer already has star power to go with some Magic fundamentals. We're talking about THE Magic, as in Earvin Johnson. This is no illusion.

Sure calling Lamar Odom one of the greatest players in the league is a bit of a hater-ready overstatement, but he sure is one of the greatest talents this league has to offer and a one of a kind great. Put it this way coming off the bench he was the Lakers ace in the hole. They should have never dealt one of their best hands. Put it another way, you don't deal the leagues most versatile player to its most versatile team. Especially when that team is one that swept and knocked you out of championship contention. Now not only do the new NBA champions have Larry O'Brien on their side, they also have a motivated, angry Lamar Odom on their side. You can call this a rivalry now and guess who has the advantage?

This is more potent a power move then when the Lakers looked to keep their enemies closer by signing Dallas' bench hot-rod J.J. Barea. The Lamar Odom move actually happened and is more of a big-name, big-game changer. Like James Worthy, Jaamal Wilkes and other smooth, versatile big-forwards before him Lamar Odom will always go down as a Laker champion and great, but what an awful shame his legacy was cut short. Now as L.O. looks to continue his champagne campaign via American Airlines, the Lakers nation can't help but feel grounded by losing one of their brightest and best personalities and players.

Sure if Lamar Odom was shipped away to gain Chris Paul and championship leverage than maybe this could be easier for the Lakers fans to swallow, but even that trade with Pau Gasol seemed to leave the Lakers depleted. David Stern was right it was unfair. It almost seemed like the Lakers were giving up too much and two players too many. Then with the commissioners collapse of the trade the Lakers were left with some collateral damage to their cohesiveness. Because of hurt feelings the baited trade left in Lamar Odom a new trade was demanded at his request to be cast-out. Now the Lakers have lost him for practically nothing but a draft pick. OK, this opens up the cap space and doors for Dwight Howard but surely the Lakers could have amnestied someone else to help keep their roster in shape.

Losing Odom not only loses the Lakers versatility, it also narrows their playing field...or their floor to be more specific. Lamar's all-round game opened up the Lakers, offence, playbook and court in a way like no other. Now he's gone the Lakers are a Bynum or a Gasol away from losing a formidable frontline. Sure Dwight Howard may bring the perfect smiles back to Hollywood, but Odom's loss clearly reveals that this team needs more work done. It's not just about one guy and this sixth man really backed his team up to the core. There's no 'I' in 'team' or 'championship' and now there's no 'L.O.' in 'Los Angeles'. Gone are his career close 14.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds from last year to go with his career highs in three-point (.382) and field goal (.530) percentages. Also gone, beyond statistics are his above average all-round game, his scoring, passing, range and long limbs that reach all sort off off-ball fundamentals and facets. Also his class, charisma and great locker room presence will be sorely missed.

As he enters the halls that Mark Cuban built however Odom brings more dimensions to a team that has more than a geometry class. Odom's numbers may go down in the talent pool lassoed by the Mavericks, but his productivity and intangible output. His championship experience, both on the winning and losing end will be as valuable a commodity as his inspiring character and positivity now mixed with a new tonic of motivational revenge. Odom was exactly the player that the Lakers needed to take their squad from a Kobe show to an ensemble piece back when he was traded for Shaq. He even went from easing the Lakers post-Shaq hurt to proving that in the long run it was the more worthwhile move, but is it now? Now that those 2006 school adverts mocking him getting traded again have come true, Odom may be exactly the player this new winning Dallas team needs to help them towards their own dynasty.

Sure the Lakers are far from out of contention, just like Lamar they have a new motivation to win. Add a D12 or a CP3 and the numbers may add up to initialing some new success for these new Lakers. It’s just a real shame that a man that stuck by them and helped them along the way will not continue down the road with the purple and gold. Yes the Lakers can go on without Lamar Odom, but you can be sure they'll never be able to replace him.

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