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Lamar Odom still wonders why

Former Lakers forward, part of a scrapped trade involving the New Orleans Hornets before being sent to the Dallas Mavericks, has questions for his old team, due to host the Mavericks.

January 15, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Mavericks forward Lamar Odom drives against Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka during a preseason game last month.
Mavericks forward Lamar Odom drives against Oklahoma City's Serge… (LM Otero / Associated Press )

Reporting from Dallas -- The half-eaten gourmet omelet sits idly next to the ignored biscuits and potatoes. It's obvious some of this Lakers stuff still bothers Lamar Odom.

The popular Lakers forward became the former Lakers forward last month, a turbulent time that had him running the scale of emotions in a breakfast interview Saturday with The Times.

He was involved in the most awkward trade veto in NBA history when Commissioner David Stern blocked the deal that would have sent Odom to New Orleans, Pau Gasol to Houston and Chris Paul to the Lakers.

He still has some questions for the Lakers, who play the Mavericks on Monday at Staples Center.

"For them just to [try to] trade me without communicating, it made me start to ask myself questions like 'Why would they do something like that?' " said Odom, who found out he was in the attempted Paul trade from a Times reporter. "It hurt my feelings. Why would they choose to go that route? My father lives in California and I take care of my dad. They know about my family situation, everything about me, everything about Lamar.

"It was impossible for me not to take it personally. When I spoke to one of the representatives for the Lakers, the first thing he said was 'Don't take it personally.' That means it's personal if that's the first thing someone says to you."

Odom was so stunned to be in the deal that he skipped the first two days of Lakers training camp, then asked to be traded and was immediately dealt to Dallas for a future first-round pick.

He wonders about his role in reality TV shows with his wife, Khloe Kardashian, and his increasing off-court profile.

"Were those the reasons I got traded? Because I don't know what I did," he said, again referring to the New Orleans plan. "I never was told 'This is why they're doing it.' I was told from the guy that represents me, who is good at what he does, that it's a straight money thing. They just wanted to get rid of money. I thought we had established the type of relationship that if that was the case, they'd just tell me."

The Lakers wanted Paul for his dynamic ability but also would have shed $41 million in salary and luxury taxes over two seasons if the trade had been approved. The Lakers declined to comment for this story.

Odom, 32, couldn't care less about the money-saving angle for a team that employed him for seven seasons.

"The day you get traded, you walk into the team's office and you see people walking around and they're acting like your name is Lazarus instead of Lamar," he said. "You're looking to get an insight into somebody and they're eating food and stuffing their mouth and saying hello and goodbye at the same time. They won't even look you in your eye. There was a lot of things that some people in business would consider cowardly."

He still misses the fans, the lifestyle of being a regular with the Lakers.

"The crowd, I consider them my friend," he said, taking off a pair of sunglasses halfway through the interview and touching the corners of his eyes. "The energy that was passed from them to me always made everything feel all right. My interaction with the crowd, when Jack [Nicholson] started a chant, you're communicating with your eyes or verbally with these people that I have all their DVDs and see their Oscar-winning performances.

"To feel them root for you because they like you and see you evolve into a man and someone who's consistently putting it out for them, it's awesome. It's the best feeling in the world as far as basketball is concerned."

He won championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and added his most notable personal achievement in 2011 — the NBA sixth man of the year award.

He hasn't been effective in his first 13 games with Dallas, averaging 6.8 points and five rebounds and shooting 31.2%.

He appears to be missing the triangle offense, especially after being absent for most of the Mavericks' training camp and still adjusting to the thick playbook of Coach Rick Carlisle.

In many ways, this isn't his town.

His jersey isn't sold at the Mavericks' arena. When he reenters the game in the third quarter of a rout against Milwaukee, only one voice can be heard.

"Let's go, Lamar," was a fan's welcome, a little more demanding than delighted, definitely not the adulation Odom received in Los Angeles whenever he entered.

There were plenty of fans' homemade signs for Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion and even one for newcomer Delonte West ("West Is Best!").

There were none for Odom. There was only a "We Love Khloe" sign being waved by a fan.

"Basketball-wise, it's been humbling because I was so unprepared for a trade," Odom said. "I wasn't ready to go one on one yet. [Mavericks fans] are looking at me as the guy that played for the Lakers. That's who I am. The guy that played for the enemy that does reality shows that's married to Khloe. It's a different vibe. And me getting off to a slow start, people are like, 'I thought he was [good]. Is that it?' "

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