Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom has won the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award! This is awesome! I have been saying all along that this season was by far Odom’s best season of his NBA career.
The Los Angeles Clippers drafted Odom 4th overall in 1999 and had huge expectations of him early on. Odom was a rare specimen: a 6′ 10″ forward with impeccable ball-handling ability. Many general managers and scouts even compared him to NBA legend Magic Johnson. Unfortunately, Odom never lived up to the hype and was ultimately traded to the Miami Heat before settling down with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Despite my joyous mood, I was never a huge fan of Odom. I always felt that he was an underachiever that would one day regret not achieving his full potential. LO is 6′ 10″, lefty, and could play any position on the court. The last time an NBA player played all five positions during one game was during Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals when a rookie Magic Johnson filled in at center for the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson amassed 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals en route to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers. To this day, Johnson remains the only NBA rookie to ever win a NBA Finals MVP.
Odom will NEVER live up to the Magic Johnson comparisons, and quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. He won’t be remembered for what he failed to achieve, but instead for what he did accomplish. Odom has an NBA 6th Man Award and two NBA championships…hopefully still counting..How can that not count for something?
Even in spite of his accomplishments, I will remember Odom most for being a selfless player who relinquished his starting position when asked by head coach Phil Jackson at the beginning of the 2008-09 NBA season. Though Odom initially wasn’t happy about coming off the bench, he quickly realized that the adjustment made the Lakers a much better team and embraced his role with the second unit, even if it meant sacrificing potential All-Star appearances and other individual accomplishments.
The irony here is that the historically-subpar Clippers drafted Odom with hopes that he would popularize and solidify the franchise in a town full of die-hard Lakers fans. But since being rotated to the bench, Odom has helped the Lakers win two consecutive NBA championships and earned himself a highly coveted NBA honor. If you ask me, Lamar Odom gets to have his cake and eat it too.