Lamar Odom: The Good, The Bad and The Bizarre

I’m just going to admit this publicly. I am a Lamar Odom apologist.

Whew…that feels much better. Like that time when Dexter admitted to that shrink that he was a serial killer.  The weight has been lifted.

Hey, I don’t need to make excuses for having LO’s back. His game more than speaks for itself and those two rings scream louder than anything else he’s ever accomplished.

Sure, over the years I’ve taken plenty of heat for sticking up for Odom. Until this year the dude never seemed to be able to put together three consecutive games of good hoop. Combine his erratic tendencies with a penchant for making some truly bonehead mistakes and it became a weekly routine for me to defend the Lakers keeping him during the post-Shaq rebuild.

Last night’s triple OT instant classic was the perfect snapshot of everything that is Odom.

When Lamar is good, he’s one of the most impossible-to-defend players on the planet. His freakish combination of size, speed and instincts make for a (gulp!) Magic Johnson-esque one man fast break every time he snatches a board.

The Suns seemingly always get a heavy dose of the Good Lamar. Last night was no exception as LO dropped a season-high 29 while pulling down 16 boards. For a team that already doesn’t play D to begin with, the Suns are truly defenseless against Odom when he’s on his game.

For the most part, Odom is most effective when he gets a slower big trying to check him on the perimeter. That’s when he goes to his patented head-down, attack the rim and finish with a long-armed scoop shot move.

However, the Bad Lamar can surface from time to time as well.

While his outside shot has improved drastically, Odom can fall into those Vince Carter lulls where he settles too often for long bombs over close range shots. We got a good glimpse of that last night too as Odom put up 4 threes making just one.

Now the man is never going to be confused with Ray Allen, but you do have to respect Lamar when he’s got the rock 25-feet from the hoop. Problem is he’s very much a rhythm shooter. When he’s squared up ready for the rock, it’s usually money in the bank. For Lamar it’s all about the catch and shoot. But when Odom is caught trying to create his own shot from distance the results are often uglier than Tyrone Hill with a hangover.

Of course it is impossible to talk about last night’s thriller without mentioning the shocker Odom provided in OT that helped keep all the East Coast journalists up well past their bed time.

The Bizarre Lamar tends to rear its head from time to time. Last night was only the latest entry into that category. With a three point lead, and mere seconds remaining on the Suns’ playoff hopes, the Lakers seemingly had executed to perfection the perimeter D necessary to seal the deal. A flustered Steve Nash dished the rock to a desperate Channing Frye who could only hope for his last second heave to force another OT.

Well…as it turns out Frye’s best chance was to pray for Lamar the Bizarre to emerge. And sure enough LO was happy to oblige by intentionally fouling Frye as he attempted a three.

Three free throws later and it was looking like a moment of March Madness not unlike what the B-Ball world saw unfold in the Pitt-Butler fiasco just a few days ago.

To be sure this was perhaps the most Bizarre moment of all for LO as a Laker. About the only thing that comes close – off the top of my head – was when he helped force another unnecessary overtime a few years back in Sacramento. In that instance the Lakers had the lead and the clock in their favor but Odom chose to go full speed ahead into the paint where Brad Miller was waiting to collect a charge.

Such is the nature of one of basketball’s most unique talents. There is almost no doubt the Lakers couldn’t have built this budding dynasty without the services of Odom. His ability to do whatever it takes to win a title is invaluable. He’s taken a pay cut, a reduced role and a lot of criticism but it never seems to faze the Candy Man or as Vic the Brick likes to call him LAAAMAAHHHH.

You take the good, you take the bad, you take the bizarre and there you have a character born to grace the pages of a quirky indie screenplay. For Lamar Odom though, his stature is much larger so it’s only natural his theatrics are on display mere miles from Hollywood.

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Tags: Channing Frye Lamar Odom Magic Johnson Ray Allen Steve Nash Vince Carter

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