Lamar Odom: Mr. Locker Room

Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest benchThat Lamar Odom is a great guy to have in the locker room isn’t exactly breaking news for anyone that’s been around the jovial swing man.

On the contrary, Odom has long been as one of the league’s most well-liked personalities by players, coaches and media members alike.

But after his pregame hilarity in L.A.’s locker room leading into Sunday’s game in Detroit – when Odom spent several minutes serenading his teammates with old school Bone Thugs -N- Harmony joints – it felt appropriate to mention his locker room aptitude once again.

Let’s ask Luke Walton.

“No question is he the best locker room guy I’ve ever been around,” said Walton as Odom rolled off “First of the Month” in the background. “That’s easy. It’s just how Lamar is.”

What does “best locker room guy” mean, exactly?

Well, if the locker room is really just the team, and the word “best” doubles as “most likeable,” the explanation becomes more simple. Odom, in essence, keeps the Lakers loose when they get uptight, finds ways to be boost their (or his) collective energy when they appear tired, serves as a mediator of disputes and pumps guys up if they’re feeling individually down.

Basically, he does whatever he needs to do to help the team off the court from a mental standpoint, always intent upon bringing everyone together. And since he’s such a likeable person, there’s no acting necessary.

Lamar OdomCase in point: the Lakers barely got out of the East Coast snowstorm on Saturday evening, arriving after 3 a.m. on Sunday morning in Detroit, and the team was collectively weary prior to that night’s game against the Pistons. Odom’s natural inclination was to pull out some Bone Thugs while skipping around the locker room, pausing to slap guys on the butt, encourage participation and what have you.

Such episodes from Odom are certainly not rare.

Another Lamar anecdote occurred at the close of Monday afternoon’s practice back in Los Angeles, while Odom was taking part in an always-heated game of four-on-four between players not named Kobe, Pau, Derek or Ron.

As game point approached, Shannon Brown took exception to Jordan Farmar’s trying to draw a charge, and began to let the accused know what he thought about it.

Odom shouted (to be more accurate, he yelled-out-in-a-non-accusatory-and-gentle-yet-somehow-still-firm way) out the following: “Just play man, come on!”

Instead of arguing or complaining further, Brown said, “My bad man, my bad” to Odom, and kept on playing. You see, nobody’s arguing with Odom; they all like him too much.

Of course, such conversations between Brown, Farmar, or fill-in-the-blank other teammates happen approximately 768 times per practice. That’s just how it goes when some of the world’s most competitive people are trying to beat one another.

But having perhaps the league’s best locker room guy to keep everything cool?

That’s certainly never a bad thing.