My heart was broken earlier this week when I saw the news about Lamar Odom being found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel and the subsequent news about him going into a coma, and being on life support. Today I was delighted to find out that Odom is reported to be out of the coma and breathing on his own.
There’s no player in sports that I feel empathetic towards more than Odom. As a Lakers fan it was an absolute pleasure to watch Lamar create on the court. As a 6’9″ player who could run an offense, guard multiple positions, and create at will he was ahead of his time. In a lot of ways he embodies what it means to be a modern NBA player. The Lakers don’t even come close to winning the 2009 and 2010 titles without him.
Ironically it’s in this time where his game would shine the most, that Odom has hit bottom. I don’t want to get into all of Odom’s history, if you are interested you can read this incredibly well thought-out article from Sports Illustrated’s, Lee Jenkins. Just know that this is a man who has dealt with tragedy his entire life, but by all accounts has never been less than gracious and kind with everyone he has ever met.
It’s been in this time of crisis that so many players and coaches have come out to show their absolute support and love for one of the most genuinely good souls in the league. Kobe Bryant, by no means the warmest of souls, spent hours by Odom’s bedside after he found about his friends condition. There has been a deluge of positive Tweets from current and former NBA stars, and here is Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich on Lamar as a person.
I don’t concentrate on what kind of player he is,” Popovich said after Friday’s practice. “I feel all the other things, because I know him as a person. Warm-hearted. Good-humored. Wonderful guy to be around. Who cares about how he played? It’s about who you are and he was a good person
I’m usually the first person to tell people not to care about athletes personal lives, but I can’t help but feel for Lamar Odom. He is one of the most unique talents that I have ever watched play. I don’t think any basketball nerd will ever forget him. Now at the all too young age of 35 Odom is in a fight for his life. It’s not a game any longer. It’s not reality TV. It’s just a good human being trying to fight off his demons. I’ve never wanted to cheer for him more.