Lamar Odom wasn’t in a good place emotionally going into the 2011-12 season.
He had just won the NBA’s sixth man of the year award during his seventh season with the Lakers and wasn’t far removed from winning back-to-back league championships with the team.
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.
From left: Bruce Jenner, Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian play at the 2011 BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at the Los Angeles Convention Center.(Noel Vasquez / Getty Images)
Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers is surrounded by a crush of reporters during Lakers media day at the Lakers training facility on September 29, 2009 in El Segundo.(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)
Television personality Khloe Kardashian and Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom attend the “AXE Music One Night Only” concert series featuring Weezer at Dunes Inn Motel - Sunset on September 21, 2010 in Hollywood.(Michael Buckner / Getty Images)
Clippers President Andy Roeser congratulates Lamar Odom after a press conference announcing his return at the Los Angeles Clippers training facility in Los Angeles Monday July 2, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Actresss Khloe Kardashian, NBA player Lamar Odom and actress Kim Kardashian arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Whiteout” at the Village Theater on September 9, 2009 in Los Angeles.(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Clippers forward, Lamar Odom, during the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers game at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom sits for his first interview as a Los Angeles Clipper during Media Day at the Clippers training facility in Playa Vista on September 28, 2012.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom warms up before the game against the Celtics on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol wrestle for a rebound in the first half of game one of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A driver displays a basketball jersey with Lamar Odom’s name as the driver exits Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. The former NBA basketball player was hospitalized after he was found unconscious Tuesday at a Nevada brothel, authorities said.(David Becker / Associated Press)
Clippers star Lamar Odom plays against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 2, 2013, in Oakland.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom during the Lakers-Clippers game at Staples Center in October 2012.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Clippers’ Lamar Odom dribbles the ball past the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried at the Staples Center on Dec. 25, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom fights for a loose ball against a pair of Sacramento Kings players during a game at Staples Center on Dec. 21, 2012.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom listens to a question during a press conference announcing his return at the Los Angeles Clippers training facility in Los Angeles on July 2, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Khloe Kardashian is alongside Lamar Odom, a forward for the Lakers, who received the Sixth Man Award in 2011 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles.
For the record, Oct. 14, 1:54 p.m.: An earlier version of this caption described Khloe Kardashian as Lamar Odom’s ex-wife. Their divorce is still pending.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Lamar Odom sticks out his tongue after scoring a clutch basket against the New York Knicks in the closing minute of the game Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000, in Los Angeles. Odom scored a team-high 16 points and the Clippers came from behind to defeat the Knicks 78-74.(Associated Press)
Lamar Odom in action against the
“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.”