Lamar Odom may be the most beloved NBA player among both Los Angeles fanbases. The Queens native may have come from the other side of the country, but he played most of his career in LA, five for the Clippers and seven for the Lakers.
Odom was drafted by the Clippers out of Rhode Island in 1999, the lanky forward picked No. 4 overall. Two of the three players taken ahead of him that year — Elton Brand and Baron Davis — ended up playing for the Clippers themselves.
Odom’s stints with the Clippers was both full of promise and bittersweet feelings of what could have been. He was an NBA All-Rookie Team selection in 2000. The next season, he lead the Clippers in scoring, rebounds, steals, blocks and was second in assists, showing his ability to fill up the stat sheet for his team. In future years, as Brand, Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson, among others, joined the team, Odom was no longer the No. 1 option, but he settled into what’s likely his biggest legacy — a fantastic complimentary player, willing to do the hard work and be a team player while making a mark in a variety of ways.
The Clippers allowed Odom’s contract to expire in the summer of 2003, and didn’t re-sign him, instead putting their money in Brand and letting L.O. walk. Odom went to Miami, then to the Lakers, and eventually to the Mavericks, before returning to the Clippers in 2012-13. His last season in the NBA, Odom was firmly a reserve, but he played in every game, for just the third time in his career, and ended his Clippers tenure on a high note with a division title.
While the Clippers didn’t get the best of Odom, personal problems played a role in his fortunes over his career, too. Odom’s family background was troubled, he had drug issues early and late in his career, his infant child tragically died and seemed to fuel some of his personal demons, and his tabloid marriage to Khloe Kardashian did not help his mental health. A player who was known as one of the best guys around, beloved by his teammates and again, widely beloved by all of Los Angeles, has also not had it easy in his life.
The bright side is Odom is now 40 and without sounding too maudlin, that’s a great sign in itself. There have been 15 players to have worn the No. 7 for the Clippers, but Odom is pretty clearly the class of that group.
More news for this Tuesday:
- Shamet in #LATogether PSA: Landry Shamet represented the Clippers in this coronavirus pandemic PSA put out by 12 local teams — Clippers, Lakers, Sparks, LAFC, LA Galaxy, Dodgers, Angels, LA Kings, Ducks, Wildcats, USC and UCLA. I think this is a great way to rally all Angelenos (and beyond) at a very difficult time right now.
This is bigger than sports.— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 6, 2020
We are in this together. pic.twitter.com/OrLjuUNLgW
- Montrezl doc coming: The Clippers previewed an upcoming documentary feature on Montrezl Harrell, which will drop on YouTube on Wednesday. Mark your calendars!
- PatBev on KG: Kevin Garnett has been voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in response Patrick Beverley called KG “My why and motivation,” saying he wears No. 21 as tribute.
- NBA 2K Tuesday: Speaking of Harrell and Beverley, both Clippers are still in the quarterfinals of the NBA 2K Players Only tournament, which continues Tuesday. The quarterfinal round will run 4-8 pm PT on ESPN2.
Today’s question: How many Clippers will advance to the NBA 2K Players Only semifinals? Let’s hear your takes in the comments below.