Lamar Odom spent 12 of his 14 NBA seasons in the city of Los Angeles, making a name for himself with the Los Angeles Clippers and cementing his place amongst the All-Star caliber players during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. After becoming a crucial part of the Lakers back-to-back titles, Odom saw his basketball career and world spiral in a matter of a few years.
Odom sat down for an interview with Shams Charania of The Vertical, opening up about his career, including his time spent with the Lakers. Odom got to play alongside All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum during their primes and helped coach Phil Jackson capture two more championships.
When reflecting upon his time with the Lakers, Odom couldn’t help but allude to Bryant and all he was able to do. Odom got a first-hand demonstration of the 18-time All-Star’s insane work ethic, including the ‘Mamba Mentality’. Odom addressed Bryant’s competitive spirit as the best he had ever seen, with a few All-Stars coming somewhat close:
“No one was close to Kobe for me, his competitive spirit,” Odom told The Vertical. “I mean, D-Wade and Chris Paul … Chris Paul is second with his competitive drive, but Kobe Bryant, man, in the morning, man. He taught me to really finish off. To finish. Finish everything. I already had the Heat mantra instilled in me, lifting weights every day, which I started that season in Miami. I was cool with that, being around Kobe. You want to be strong, defend your spot and your territory when you play with Kobe.”
Bryant captured the final two of his five championships during those last Lakers runs, including the two NBA Finals MVP awards he also added to his award collection. Many former players, including Kenyon Martin and Jay Williams, have alluded to the unparalleled determination Bryant had to be the best. During his 20 seasons with the Lakers, Bryant was capable of scorching a team on any given night, with few teams foolish enough to dare the ‘Black Mamba’ just as they wouldn’t have with Michael Jordan.
A season after winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award, Odom was involved in the ultimately vetoed Chris Paul trade. Feeling betrayed by the Lakers, Odom demanded to be traded and eventually was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks, a move he believes basically ended his career.
There still remains a possibility that Odom could join the Lakers coaching staff. There was a discussion about a player development role, but Odom wasn’t ready to commit to the Lakers. If that mindset changes however, a return could be in order.