Lamar Odom should have a job right now, playing basketball in the NBA. It’s mid-October, tip-off time for a league that usually starts at Halloween, the time of year where Rod Strickland used to get gigs, and the 37-year old Odom remains sensibly sidelined as training camps break. When he turns 38 in November, 41 months will have passed since Lamar Odom last played in the league it seemed he was born to live in.
Assuming that sort of dumb sh*t is where we made our first mistake, of course, but it is worth recognizing that Odom was always meant to dance at this space at an advanced age.
The man was throwing Fat Man passes in middle school, loping around the avenue in a 1990s set of New York that only seemed to provide prospects beset with progeria: Elton Brand, Metta World Peace, Brendan Haywood, Ernest Brown, Melvin Robinson. At 6-10 and with a resume that includes 253 three-pointers launched in 2000-01 alone, Lamar would have fit in perfectly in a modern-as-tomorrow NBA that asks its power forwards to provide complication and an outside touch in equal amounts.
Instead, LO will sit this one out. Whatever the link that sent you here, you’ve got a pretty good idea why. Odom detailed his struggles as an addict in an expert document available at the Players Tribune this summer, an aching and candid portrayal read without much blinking by those who have navigated similar bumps. The basketball reasons, as they damn well should be, were left out of the feature Odom penned.
Odom’s first satisfying year as a pro – a dandy turn through the 2003-04 with an emerging Miami Heat squad – turned skittery in the summer when, according to his Players Tribune piece, he tried blow for the first time after a young lifetime previously spent sneering at the stuff. It doesn’t matter if the hit took place before or after he was dealt from the Heat that same summer, the centerpiece in a 2004 deal that returned Shaquille O’Neal. It could have coated before or after Lamar turned from franchise cornerstone into trade asset in the face of a big doofus with a truck full of Super Soakers.