There's no question that Los Angeles Clippers' forward Lamar Odom has the tools to be one of the NBA's most versatile and effective players -- he's always had them.
The trouble is like many of his predecessors, he's failed to exhibit the work ethic that takes gifted players into the upper echelon of NBA stardom. The issues with Odom over the past few years have been well-documented: He was involved in a car accident that resulted in a fatality, had to deal with the shooting death of his cousin and married the sister of an A-lister known for finding drama.
It's not hard to imagine why basketball took a back seat.
After putting up a season stat line of career worsts with the Dallas Mavericks -- 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and a laughable 9.2 PER -- Odom has been given a second chance with the Clippers. It's his last opportunity to experience a career comeback and rebirth of sorts, and perhaps the familiar confines of Staples Center could be exactly what he needs to find motivation and regain at least some of the passion fans in Los Angeles saw just a few short seasons ago.
But apparently, he's not treating it as such. According to the Los Angeles Times, Odom was held out of the Clippers' preseason game against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 17 at Staples Center because he was out of shape and overweight.
That doesn't sound like the conditioning of a player who has, for all intents and purposes, been given his proverbial last rites. The most troubling aspect of Odom's decline is the lost potential. He had his best years with the Los Angeles Lakers, capped by a Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2010-2011 and two NBA titles while wearing the purple and gold.
But he managed to throw away golden opportunities to be a truly special player early in his career with behavioral issues, and it appears that the Clippers could get a second look at the 'bad' Lamar. That's right, the one who doesn't care about basketball anymore.
Odom has to know that this is his last chance, but if he doesn't perform now, then it proves his heart just isn't in it anymore. That's unfortunate for Clippers fans who looked forward to seeing him regain form where it all started for the Rhode Island product in 1999. More importantly, it's a loss for the NBA, which has had few players with the capabilities of Odom over the course of its long history.
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