Lamar Odom’s best season as a Laker had a tangible individual reward, as he garnered the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year trophy after playing all 82 games to average 14.4 points on 53 percent field goals, with 8.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists plus 38.2 percent from three-point range.
In the playoffs, Odom averaged 12.1 points on 45.9 percent, 6.5 boards and 2.1 assists, his numbers down as were almost all of his teammates in a rough stretch of 10 games.
Below is a summary of his exit interview:
- If you took a poll amongst the media that covers the Lakers about which player is the most enjoyable to interview, Odom would win in a landslide. His first comment, while sitting down, was “With how many of you’ll are hear, I’d have thought we won. What are you guys doin’?” with the usual twinkle in his eye and smile on his face, even though he was clearly down from the playoff drop out.
- Reflecting on his time with Phil Jackson: “Amazing. History. Being a part of his championship teams, watching him win championships with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaq and Kobe … to experience that as a basketball player is a dream come true.”
- On his meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson: Odom relayed his appreciation for the time and the run that this group had with Phil, and how now it’s time to gear up and try to start another one. Later, Kupchak would tell the media that Odom was the only player who he thought had a “great” individual year. That said, Odom was talking to Derek Fisher about individual success he may have felt this year on the plane ride back from Dallas, but after experiencing championships, Odom said “to hell with it” to individual accomplishments. “The one year I get noticed or I get accolades, get to work with my wife and have a reality show and a fragrance happen is the year that we come up short, that we lose.” Odom said it would be “silly” to associate his off court activity with his shooting the show. While shooting, L.A. won 16-of-17 games, and the show wasn’t shot in the playoffs. Furthermore, Odom said his teammates certainly didn’t have a reality show being filmed, implying that guys didn’t play poorly because of something like that.
- Count Odom amongst the several Lakers that said they definitely wanted to stay together as a unit. He knows that the team was expected to win again, and is disappointed that they didn’t, but confident that adjustments will bring them back. He added: “When you play on a high level, three four years in a row, all the teams are gearing up for you, and (this year) they got us. Some times you get beat, sometimes you lose. We lost.”
- Odom on where it went wrong: He certainly mentioned fatigue as a big factor, as most players did, but added this: “We never got to that consistency of playing defense at a high level, from the beginning of the season to the end. You’re going to miss shots, you’re going to be tired, but you always can play team defense, be one of the best defensive teams in the league. I didn’t think we did that throughout the year, making it hard enough on teams.” It wasn’t that the team wasn’t hungry, which he said he knew because of how much it hurt when the lost, but added this: “What happened was, we got cocky and we played cat and mouse with the rest of the league. We just couldn’t recover.”
- Odom on what type of coach the team needs: “Keep us bonded, push us. This should be an easy team to coach. You’ve got veterans who know how to play.” He said that “of course” Brian Shaw would be a good candidate, and Odom would like to stay with the triangle offense. When done right, it gets everyone involved and lets people use their advantages, which is how L.O. likes to play.
- What Odom will miss most about Phil: “His sarcasm. Our weird relationship … it was fun though. How he used to push me, how it was fun for me to try and prove him wrong. But I learned so much for him. He got me into reading, which helps me learn something new every day.” Odom was also one of the few to put it in perspective with Phil, suggesting that “I think Phil will be all right,” referring indirectly to his great coaching success and general demeanor.
- Odom detailed how he’s been trying to get his mind off the playoff loss by staying at home, then joked with reporters who misunderstood by saying: “I’ve got a back yard. I’m not hiding under my bed or anything like that. I got some sun, I just wanted to stay home.” He also said he looks forward to getting back to his original home in South Jamaica, Queens, getting his kids together, and “sit on a crate at the store.”
- Odom had lamented L.A.’s inability to call upon the chemistry that had been so good within the group wasn’t there against Dallas, but thinks the loss will make it easy to find again for next season.
- Two reasons Odom cited for having his best season this late in his career were: 1) learning from the players around him throughout the years like Kobe, Fisher and Gasol, which coupled with his natural growth around talent that’s always been there* and 2) the he family element off the court that made him just “feel support,” which we wrote about in a feature back in January. He specifically cited having his wife Khloe there at home, being able to talk to Bruce Jenner (Khloe’s step father and former champion decathlete) about winning, and having beautiful women cheering for him, which always makes him play better.
*Odom had a quick anecdote about when he’d go to the park in Queens as a six or seven year old, and people would say, “That kid can play!”
- Confidence never left Odom despite how the team was playing: “I thought we were going to win four championships in a row. After getting there against Boston and losing, then winning two in a row, I’d be lying to tell you (otherwise). We were down 3-0, I thought we were going to come back and win that series (against Dallas). Honestly. I thought it was meant to be. I think we can get there again, and really push the league, do the same thing we’ve done before.”
- Odom said he’d take two weeks off from hoops, then get back to work with his personal trainer. However, he said he’d probably do some boxing tonight, just so his legs won’t die on him.