Hello… Is Lamar Odom There?
• dEDGE Post Scriptum •
Saddled with foul trouble in Games 1 and 2, Lamar Odom flew with the rest of the team on their charter flight to Boston, but many Laker fans are wondering if he will actually show up for Game 3. You see, Odom hasn’t exactly lived up to his bench leading capabilities just yet. To say that he has been a non-factor in the series would be remiss. But to say that he has been a factor is even more far-fetched.
Lamar is a vital element of the Los Angeles Lakers and their chances of repeating. His absence was easily overlooked in the Game 1 landslide as others eagerly filled the void. But it was glaringly amiss in their Game 2 loss. Had LO simply put up his playoff averages of 10-points and 9 rebounds, we would all be talking about the Lakers 2-0 lead. Instead, the Lakers head to Boston for the next three games, tied at 1-1 with doubts suddenly ringing in our minds as if it were 2008 all over again.
Pau Gasol took the brunt of the criticism after the Lakers failed to live up to their unexpected goals in 2008. But it was Lamar who was MIA until Game 6, and by then it was already too late. Lamar worked doubly hard in the offseason, vowing to play up to the organization’s as well as his own expectations. The 2009 season saw the Lakers overrun the league to win their 15th title with Odom playing a major role. On the way to the championship, LO averaged 12.3-points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 32-minutes of action during the playoffs. Opponents were unable to double-team Kobe or Gasol because LO posed a threat all by himself. It was a matter of pick your poison. And whenever defenders gambled on Lamar, they lost.
This blog started on a fateful day back in February 2009. Finally fed up with the Lakers style of play, I decided to vent and told anyone willing to listen that the Lakers needed to lose against the Boston Celtics. They needed to be slapped around in order to learn the hard lessons that I felt they were in need of at the time. But to my surprise, the Lakers made a stand and went on to win that game, turning the corner in an otherwise meaningless regular season game. As I look back at that article, it still holds true today. We stand at another crossroads and the Boston Celtics are again in our path. Either we dedicate ourselves and play to our fullest capabilities or we go home with our tails between our legs for a second time. Here’s my follow-up (abbreviated) article from Feb. 2009 after the Lakers had beaten the Celtics:
I’d like to personally thank Kevin Garnett for waking up Lamar Odom out of his stupor. Let’s face it, KG would’ve clocked Lamar into next year had their confrontation escalated. But Lamar decided to be cute and against better judgment, slapped him on the ass after KG was assessed an offensive foul.
Call it foolhardiness, careless antagonization, or just plain stupidity, but I’m sure Lamar didn’t expect the reaction he got from KG. Rather than run up the court to dispute the call with the referee, Garnett instead got into Lamar’s grill and ever so politely voiced his displeasure with his love tap. As spittle and sweat spew forward, surprisingly Lamar Odom did not back down, but instead unleashed his own verbosity back at KG.
It’s like standing up to the bully for the first time, you’re scared but heck, you’ve had it. Enough is enough and you aren’t going to take it anymore, regardless of the circumstances. As soon as it was over, Lamar had a sheepish grin on his face that explained it all. He had stood up to the bully and he was still standing… Actually, he looked like he felt pretty good about himself. His chest puffed out a little more, he stood a little taller, and he became a difference maker.
What followed was a second half display of talent that all Laker fans have been waiting for… forever. The worst had happened and it wasn’t that bad. Lamar Odom attacked, fought, dove, and willed the Lakers to the victory last night. He stood up and was counted in the final tally, rather than merely identified as a participant.
And on a night when Paul Pierce was forcing Kobe into erratic shots, Lamar Odom made the Celtics pay by scoring 18 of his 20 points in the second half, all after his little conversation with Kevin Garnett. Pau Gasol fed off of this energy and exerted his “finesse” play by clearly outplaying the Boston frontcourt.
I was amused by this display of ferocity, albeit a timid one by most standards. Nonetheless, the Lakers turned the corner. What started as a game similar to the poundings of past, immediately became one in which the victims became the victors. It’s not a rivalry until the other guy wins and establishes doubt into their opponent. Afterward, the Celtics looked defeated and worse yet, worried.
The Lakers don’t have a lot of time to right the ship, in fact they have very little time to regroup before Game 3. But this is a lesson that’s already been taught and subsequently learned. It just a matter of taking a quick refresher course. And hopefully again, Kevin Garnett will volunteer to be the tutor.