LOS ANGELES -- Lamar Odom just can't help himself when it comes to the sweet stuff. He loves candy.
He even credits his consumption of sugary treats for fueling his double-double performances in Games 5 and 6 of the Western Conference finals that helped the Los Angeles Lakers close out Denver and reach the NBA finals.
"It's funny because the games I played well were the games where I ate candy for breakfast," he said, grinning. "It's the reason why I got double digits in points and rebounds. I guess I'm going to have to eat candy for breakfast in order to play well."
That idea is appalling to Dr. Daniel Amen, a child and adult psychiatrist in Newport Beach who wrote an essay tying together Odom's candy consumption and erratic play in the postseason.
"This is bad news for the Lakers," wrote Amen, an admitted Lakers fan. "I've been telling my patients for years that sugar acts like a drug in the brain. It causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash, leaving you feeling tired, irritable, foggy and stupid. Eating too much sugar impairs cognitive function, which may explain why Odom doesn't always make the smartest decisions on the court."
Odom's performances had been up-and-down until the final two games against the Nuggets. Of course, he was bothered by an aching back, which might have had something to do with it.
"I guess he's wrong, even though he's a doctor," Odom said.
He said he consumed "a whole plate of jellybean Starbursts" to start off those two game days last week.
"If I told anyone, the first four games I didn't eat candy, the last two I did, what would you tell me to do?" he said before supplying his own answer. "Keep eating candy."
Kobe Bryant seemingly endorsed the idea, too, saying, "Whatever works."
Odom's personal assistant procures his candy stash, shopping for Twizzler bites, Gummy Bears, Hershey's white chocolate cookies and cream (Odom's favorite), Lifesavers, and something the star forward refers to as "peachy sugarcoated rings," among other goodies.
Needless to say, the treats are a huge hit with the 29-year-old player's two young children, who probably think every day is Halloween at their house.
"If your dad always has candy, how cool is he?" Odom said. "Coolest dude in the world. My kids think I'm cool."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, the father of five grown children, knows the effects of candy on kids.
"Halloween is one of the worst nights of a year as a parent," he said.
With Game 1 of the NBA Finals beginning Thursday against Orlando, Jackson is getting plenty of reaction to Odom's vice mixed in with the usual coaching suggestions.
"I've gotten several e-mails and comments and texts from doctors who want to tell me that sugar blues are one of the toughest things to fight, especially with kids," he said. "Lamar we know is not a kid anymore. He really doesn't do that much sugar."
Trainer Gary Vitti is getting besieged, too.
"You cannot imagine how many references he's had about overdoing sugar," Jackson said.
Throughout the years, Jackson has had several players with lousy eating habits.
"A lot of these players come from positions in life where their diet probably is one of the main things they have to correct when they become professional players," he said.
Odom says he'll pop a piece of candy at halftime, comparing it to someone else who chews gum. Bryant appreciates Odom bringing a bag to share on the team bus.
He has a lot more to pass around since word of his addiction got out.
"Everybody is sending me candy now," he said.
The downside to this sweet story?
"People making it like I sit there and eat a whole plate of candy before I play a basketball game," Odom said. "I don't think anyone could do that."
Teammate Andrew Bynum defended Odom, saying, "It's not like he's eating peach rings for dinner and things like that. It's been blown kind of way out of proportion."
Asked to name a favorite food, Odom couldn't, saying simply, "I love to eat."
He joked that the uproar from those who disapprove has him considering a switch from candy to salad. "I'm going to say my favorite thing is to eat salads and I'll be like the altar boy," he said.
Odom has loved candy since he was a kid growing up in Queens. Asked how many cavities he has, he replied, "Not too many."
"Love to be his dentist," Bryant said, smiling.