Thursday, March 22, 2012
Lamar Odom's Alter-Ego
For fun, let's revise history. The Chicago Bulls decide they've had enough of Michael Jordan and they trade him to the Knicks. Jordan is bitter about it. Do you know what Jordan does the first time he faces his old team? Do you know what he does every subsequent time the Knicks play the Bulls? He, of course, drops 60 on them. He punishes them. He shows them that they shouldn't have dealt him.
Lamar Odom was bitter about being dealt from the Lakers to the Mavs. Wednesday night was yet another opportunity for Odom to show his old team that they made a mistake. How did he respond? Did he pull a Jordan on them?
Odom dropped one point on his old club. One.
The first time he faced them this season, he went 4 for 12. The next time the Lakers popped up on the schedule, Odom went AWOL. This latest game, he went for 1 point, 1 rebound, and 1 assist (in 24 minutes!). You can't make this stuff up. That was his line. 1-1-1.
Odom had a chance to pull a Jordan on his old team. Instead, he pulled a Cindy Brady--he ran up to his room and sulked, waiting for Marsha or Jan to comfort him. In this case, the roles of Marsha and Jan are being played by Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle.
Cuban and Carlisle have always struck me as no-nonsense guys. So why are they putting up with the epitome of nonsense in Lamar Odom? I don't have the answer. It's a mystery to me. There are, however, a few theories that may explain their odd actions:
1. Cuban doesn't want to upset Odom's agent, Jeff Schwartz, who also happens to be the agent for Deron Williams. In other words, they are doing what they've denied doing all season, which is sacrificing this year for next year. Keep giving Odom 20-25 minutes a night, even though he is sucking balls, and keep bending over backwards to please him in order to not piss off his agent. Part of me understands that, while part of me wonders how someone as proud as Cuban could stand to do that.
Part of me also wonders how Jimmy Johnson would have handled a situation like that. Imagine Jerry going to Jimmy and telling him to keep playing a bad player because they need to do business with the bad player's agent down the road. What would Jimmy do? He would look at Jerry and say "F*** that! We're trying to DEFEND A CHAMPIONSHIP here, and he's getting in the way!" Why won't Rick Carlisle take the same approach? When Odom rejoined the team on March 3rd, Carlisle said "we need a pants-on-fire effort from him every night." Instead, Odom has given Dallas a crap-in-his-pants effort each night, yet Carlisle seems OK with it. Bizarre.
2. Injuries. If it's not Haywood, it's Marion. If it's not Marion, it's Dirk. If it's not Dirk, it's Wright. The Dallas front line has had to deal with a bunch of aches and pains this season, and so Odom has to play because they need bodies. But, at some point, doesn't Brian Cardinal look like a better option? Wouldn't Cardinal, or anyone else, give you more effort than Odom? Wouldn't it send a better message to the team than continuing to give big minutes to a guy who obviously doesn't want to be here?
3. Hope. Cuban and Carlisle realize they are long-shots to repeat. Perhaps their best chance to go back-to-back is if Odom can somehow snap out of his funk. Good luck with that.
Last Monday against Denver, Odom grabbed 9 rebounds. It was the first time this season he finished a game with 9 rebounds, which is what he averaged last year, and what he has averaged for his career. Since returning from his "leave of absence" and since his re-dedication to the team, he is shooting 29% from the field (22 of 74), which is worse than before his "leave." Again, you can't make this stuff up.
Maybe it all goes back to reality television. Maybe Cuban and Carlisle like Season Two of "Khloe and Lamar" so much that they're star struck, and they think that Lamar can do no wrong. It's a crazy thought, but then again, this entire soap opera has been crazy. And sadly, it's become one of the main story lines for a the defending champs. The Mavs should be locked-in on validating their 2011 title. Instead, they're having to waste time and energy babysitting Cindy Brady.