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NBA COAST TO COAST

Lamar Odom's week is full of drama

The Dallas forward clashes with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, is made inactive for the remainder of the season, and is eliminated from consideration for the U.S. Olympic team.

April 14, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Forward Lamar Odom will no longer occupy a seat on the Mavericks' bench after an unproductive and drama-filled season with Dallas.
Forward Lamar Odom will no longer occupy a seat on the Mavericks' bench… (Max Faulkner / McClatchy-Tribune )

A new kind of Mav-wreck

It was a week that packed enough drama for a season's worth of episodes on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" — or "Jersey Shore," for that matter.

There were confrontations, finger-pointing and plenty of regrets, all involving one Lamar Joseph Odom.

It started with the infamous locker-room clash last weekend between Odom and his boss, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who reportedly asked his mopey, underachieving forward whether he wanted "to go for it or not?"

Odom allegedly shouted "Stop playing games!" at Cuban, prompting the owner to place Odom on the inactive list for the rest of a season in which the veteran was averaging career lows in every meaningful category for a team fighting to make the Western Conference playoffs, never mind defend its NBA title.

Charles Barkley then weighed in on the matter, saying it was "a joke" that the Mavericks would have to pay Odom the remainder of his $8.9-million salary for doing nothing.

The final indignity came when Fox Sports Florida reported that Odom had been eliminated from consideration for Team USA for this summer's Olympic Games in London. Dallas is expected to exercise the $2.4-million buyout of Odom's contract, which many Mavericks fans would probably consider the team's first wise investment in the former Laker and Clipper.

The rest of the story

Maybe Gregg Popovich has something against 12-game winning streaks.

For the second time this season, the San Antonio coach rested top players after his team had amassed 11 consecutive victories. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sat out the Spurs' 91-84 loss to Utah on Monday, with Popovich explaining that "it's pretty much a no-brainer when you look at our schedule" during the lockout-condensed season.

Reaction around the league was tepid at best, with Lakers radio announcer John Ireland questioning Popovich's integrity and Jazz forward Paul Millsap calling the move "a slap in the face."

The rest hardly reinvigorated the Spurs, who lost to the short-handed Lakers by 14 points the next day.

"They beat us to death," Popovich said after a game in which the Lakers outrebounded the Spurs, 60-33.

Here's wondering whether Popovich considers that preferable to beating yourself before tipoff.

Broadway blues

"Magic/Bird," a play about NBA legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, opened this week in New York, and it didn't exactly spark the thespian equivalent of Linsanity.

The Record of Bergen County, N.J., touted the play as an "Air Ball on Broadway," saying it "has all the depth, nuance and drama you'd find on the back of a bubble-gum card."

The New York Times was similarly critical, reporting that the emotional climax involved not the main characters but anonymous fans of the Lakers and Boston Celtics who nearly come to blows over their respective allegiances in a bar scene.

The New York Daily News gave the play only two stars. Somehow, the newspaper's review stated, the play that examines the relationship between the iconic duo "makes both great athletes look smaller than life."

Ouch.

— Ben Bolch

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