Lamar Odom is finished.
Yesterday, he was released by the Knicks, and 34 year-olds with conditioning issues and a history of drug usage don’t get another shot.
Lamar is in danger of being remembered as Khloe Kardashian’s ex. A relationship that started off as a idyllic pairing between a celebrity and a successful Los Angeles Laker, and has devolved into exhibit A for the Tina Fey theory that the Kardashians are Russian experiments to sabotage our athletes.
Khloe has since moved on to “Cocaine Mafia” rapper French Montana, and Lamar joins Kris Humphries in the embarrassment of watching his Kardashian wife move onto a rapper while they are still wedded in the eyes of law. According to Us Weekly, French has bought Khloe a new jeep and KK is looking to “get pregnant soon.”
But Lamar should not be remembered as the odd man out in the homeless man’s Kimye. He should be remembered as the Homo Erectus of the stretch power forward, a position whose modern evolution is Lebron and Carmelo.
As a 6’8″ forward who could run the floor, handle the rock, manage the offense, knock down threes, and check the other team’s second biggest dude, Odom was a nightmare matchup.
Brought over in the Shaq trade, Odom became a crucial cog of the two championship Laker squads (2009, 2010). As a Swiss Army Knife reserve, Odom allowed the Lakers to shape shift to match any opponent.
Lamar could replace Bynum to give the Lakers a pass-happy, wide open style with Pau facilitating in the middle, and Kobe creating in the space Lamar created with the threat of his shooting touch.
Lamar could sub for the artist formerly known as Ron Artest and give the Lakers an monstrous front line. Odom’s size and agility allowed him to overpower small forwards on the offensive end without getting burned on defense.
Lamar could come in for Pau and allow the Lakers to run an offense much like Dwight Howard’s Magic by putting four shooters around a dominant big (Bynum).
The season following the second championship, Lamar won the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year award.
Unlike teams that crumble when they turn to their bench, Lamar forced opponents to adjust on the fly to a new, but equally potent style of play.
Then, the Lakers attempted a blockbuster trade that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets and Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Odom to the Hornets. This trade was vetoed by David Stern for the ever-sketchy “basketball reasons,” and the trajectory of the league was forever changed.
This botched trade caused Lamar resent the Lakers organization and he demanded a trade to another contender. He wound up on the Mavericks, where his questionable fitness, weak commitment, and uninspired play led Coach Carlisle to declare him inactive for much of the end of the season. He played one last mediocre season for the Clippers, and has not found consistent playing time since.
Just three years after winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, Lamar Odom finds himself on the outside looking into the league.
We tend to remember people by what they did last. We remember Cobain, Hendrix, and Joplin as legends because our final memories of them are at the height of their genius. But, the primes of MJ (either one), Whitney Houston, and Mick Jagger have been tarnished by their post-prime life choices.
Because of his drug abuse, poor play, and struggles with conditioning Lamar belongs to the latter category.
But let us not forget the great player he once was.
Let us remember the game-changing super sub for a two-time champion.
Let us remember his skill set that defied conventional positions.
Let us forget Lamar, Khloe Kardashian’s estranged husband.
Let us remember Lamar, the champion.