In his mind, Lamar Odom had to mentally accept his new role with the Lakers so he could let go of the old and embrace the new.
He is no longer in the starting lineup and is now the team's sixth man.
Odom wrestled with that idea, initially expressing his disdain at the notion of coming off the bench.
Now Odom has seen the light, his mind-set freeing him to welcome a new challenge.
"I think mentally it was different. It humbles you," Odom said. "But being humbled has been a part of my life for a long time. . . . But for these guys in this locker room, this great organization, a great coaching staff, if that's what it has to be, that's what it has to be."
It's only four games into the season, but Odom has gotten playing time equal to that of a starter.
Odom is second on the team in minutes played (26.8), and he has been on the court at the finish of games. He is fourth in scoring (10.0), third in rebounds (6.5) and last in complaints.
He played 10 minutes in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's game against the Clippers and delivered season-highs in points (15) and rebounds (nine).
"I thought he played emotionally," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "Sometimes that's a concern; he got a technical. But he had some good moments out there."
Right after Odom got the technical foul with 9:19 left, he collected himself and scored all eight of his points in the quarter.
Odom said he now approaches the game differently.
He talked about watching a game Tuesday night between the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics and how it helped him pick up nuances of the game.
"I was watching the game almost like from a coach's eye," Odom said. "Now I'm coming off the bench and having to kind of watch the pace of the game, figure out who's hot and who's not, how things are going."
He also said there is a different approach going into a game as a starter and the sixth man.
"I try not to say that, but sometimes you can't help it," Odom said. "I don't know why."
Odom's teammates recognize his talents and appreciate his attitude.
"A player of his talent and his caliber coming off the bench improves the team tremendously," Kobe Bryant said. "I think it was very unselfish of him to be gracious in accepting the role, and you see his game flourishing because of it."
The Lakers have played just four games, but they are making a defensive stand. They have allowed the second-lowest amounts of points (85) and have held teams to the second-lowest field-goal percentage (39.3) in the NBA.
"What we're doing this year is playing defense consistently," Bryant said. "In the four games we've played, we've been consistent in terms of what our opposition is shooting from the field. . . . Your offense doesn't carry you to an NBA championship, so that's the thing that we've really been focusing on."
The Lakers don't play again until Sunday, when they play host to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center, which means the Lakers will have played only two games in eight days. Jackson gave his team the day off Thursday, but it will be back at practice today.