It's always enlightening to hear from Lamar Odom following any season, win or lose, and Wednesday was no exception. Odom is always good for a few laugh lines along with a healthy dose of honesty. Among the more notable moments came when Odom weighed a year of personal achievement- it was among his best seasons as a pro, arguably his strongest- with team disappointment.
"It's funny, but on the plane, that's what kind of broke me down," he said. "When I was with Derek [Fisher], and I was talking to him about individual success, but after experiencing championships? To hell with it. You go through so many things in life, and the one year when I get "noticed" or get accolades, or to work with my wife, the reality show, the fragrance happening, is the year my team comes up short. We lose. It's just the way it is."
For Odom to say how little the individual honors, specifically a Sixth Man of the Year award in which he took great pride, mean relative to the end of L.A.'s championship run isn't surprising. There's a reason Odom was in a position to win sixth man honors to begin with. But Odom's comments also get to one of the big issues people will point towards this offseason, namely whether off-court activities were a distracting and destructive force for the Lakers year.
Odom said there's little he can do if people draw a line between his reality show and the Lakers' poor result. "If they're that silly to think the whole team was doing it. That's not what the whole team was doing. I remember shooting the show, and we won 16, 17 games in a row. (Note: He's referring to the stretch of 17 wins in 18 games following the All-Star break.) I didn't do any of that in the playoffs. If people want to be that silly and point to that and think that's the reason why we lost or we came up short, I'll let them be silly."
He is, relative to his own business, correct. The Lakers didn't lose because L.O. had a reality show, any more than they lost because of Ron Artest's mixtape/ring raffle or Derek Fisher's work with the Player's Association, Kobe Bryant's efforts to get people flying to Istanbul on Turkish Airways, and so on. Collectively, though, off-court activities contributed to larger problems of fatigue, both mental and physical. With success comes opportunity, with opportunity obligation. Except success, bringing more games and deeper runs and more wear and tear on the mind and body, means players need less of that stuff, not more if the goal is to maintain excellence on the floor.
It's hard to begrudge guys for taking advantage of increased opportunities, but naive to think they don't have an impact on one level or another, difficult as it may be to quantify. Fortunately, those concerned the extracurriculars lost the Lakers their season can take comfort knowing losing the way they did ought to cut down on available opportunities.
Odom himself, as you can see in the videos below, points to fatigue as an aspect of their demise, but seems to focus more on the hoops end of things when all of it- the basketball and the off court stuff- from all of them goes in the hopper.
Among other issues discussed below: Not surprisingly, Odom echoes the sentiments of teammates, who support viability of the current roster's championship abilities, the triangle offense as a solid base for their talents, and regret they couldn't do more to send Jackson out a winner. Odom also addressed the issues of the "bond" he thought was lost over the course of the season.