NOTE: This is the third of three. It should have been posted first so that all of the notes made sense. But this is a blog with the word "backwards" in its title, so...what did you expect? Hey...I've written something again. The world should be...well...I'd like to think it should be thankful for that. But, perhaps I'm mistaken. Anyway...enjoy!
Lamar Odom is 6'10".
If he were 6'3", he would have been hailed as the best guard prospect of his generation.
But he's not 6'3". He's 6'10".
So...call on whatever memory you have of Tiny Archibald, Kenny Anderson or Stephon Marbury and imagine if those players were the size of a power forward instead of the size of a point guard.
You'd probably paint a picture of Magic Johnson. And you'd be right. To begin with. You'd be careful to shade it with a whole lot more athleticism, though. 'Cause, believe it or not, Lamar Odom has every inch of Magic Johnson's game, but he's FAR more (and it's not even close here) athletic than #32.
What he's never had is Earvin Johnson's head. Or his heart.
Which is the twin shame of Lamar Odom.
He is the most uniquely gifted player in a sport famous for the singularity of its players' athletic freakishness. Quite possibly, he is the most uniquely gifted player in the history of this sport. (On top of everything, he's a leftie for chrissakes!)
So, of this uniquely gifted player, what would any reasonable person expect?
All-Star. All-Pro. Championships. Hall of Fame.
Would you believe Lamar Odom--save for one All-Star appearance--has accomplished none of those things?
In his decade or so in the NBA, Lamar Odom has been the most perplexing player in the league. It is the only "most" that he has achieved thus far.
Yet, here he is. Preparing to play in his second consecutive NBA Finals. Positioned--almost as if by fate--as the most important player on the Lakers roster.
Because of his flexibility and the natural fluidity of his game, he provides an all-in-one solution for every problem posed by every player on Orlando's front line. Granted, he's not going to guard more than one guy at a time, but he could guard any one of them at any time. On the other side of the ball, none of those players--when Lamar's game is on--can guard him.
But is Lamar's game going to be on?
We really have no idea. And we'ver never had any idea about his game either.
We've known about some of his off-court episodes.
The recruiting mishaps that had him committing to, like, 4 different schools before finally being allowed to enroll at Rhode Island. The drug violations that nearly prevented him from being eligible to play in the NBA.The trade out of LA. The trade back to LA. The death of his son. The launch of his clothing line. The sweet tooth that would make Willie Wonka sick.
But we've never known about his game.
We've never known whether we're going to get the 20-10-5 from him that he's given us during brilliant flashes. We've never known whether he's gonna pick up 2 fouls in the first 3 minutes of the game then spend his time sulking by the 3-point line launching shots even the Beastie Boys wouldn't advise.
We've never known what the hell we're gonna get from Lamar Odom. But we keep wanting to believe that he's gonna give us something transcendent. Because that is precisely what he is built for.
And, you would think, that's what the NBA Finals can bring out in a player.
You would think that. You would also think that Lamar Odom will be Lamar Odom.
Which is to say that you have no idea what he will be.
You will find out, though.
And you still won't know. Not exactly