Lamar Odom wasn't in a good place emotionally going into the 2011-12 season.
But things were not well with Odom off the court during that off-season. The day after he attended the funeral of his 24-year-old cousin — who Odom said was murdered — he was a passenger in a traffic accident that resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy.
Around the same time, Odom's support system was stripped away from him. First, Lakers coach Phil Jackson retired. Then he was traded by his beloved team — first to New Orleans as part of the Chris Paul trade eventually voided by the NBA, then to the Dallas Mavericks with a second-round draft pick for an $8.9-million trade exception and a protected first-round pick.
“That trade from the Lakers basically ended my career and purpose,” Odom said. “I was never really myself ever again. Being in L.A., the structure, the people I knew, it hurt leaving. I had great memories with the Lakers, with Kobe [Bryant] and Pau [Gasol]. That was a special time in my life.
“I got traded the season after we lost to Dallas in the playoffs, and I had won Sixth Man of the Year for the team. To trade me after winning Sixth Man of the Year … what else do I got to do? Why?”
Odom never returned to form on court and ended up playing only two more seasons in the NBA, one in Dallas, one with the Clippers.
“I think about it all the time, about how much I had left in the tank. I had issues going on. But barring injury, could I play in the NBA today? I could play. I should still be playing.”
After a huge medical scare in 2015 — he was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel and survived multiple strokes, kidney failure and a coma — Odom’s priority is his two children, he told the Vertical. But the Lakers still hold a special place in his heart.
Plans are being discussed for him to sign a one-day contract and retire as a Laker, according to the Vertical.
“My family looks forward to me retiring as a Laker more than me,” Odom said. “I’m not really emotional about being praised, about signing for a day. I’m shy at the end of the day. For my son, for my family, for my fans, they may enjoy that day. It’s for them.”
He’s still friends with his former teammate and current Lakers coach Luke Walton and spent time some time around the organization before the NBA draft this summer.
“It’s always good to be back around the Lakers’ facility,” Odom said. “There’s nothing but good memories, besides that trade.”