Lamar Odom entered the NBA in 1999 with aspirations, like every budding NBA talent, to leave an indelible mark on the league. The distinguished LA Lakers forward, upon his debut, was fueled with a burning desire to demonstrate his worth, assuring everyone he was NBA material and an asset to any team.
However, the transition from college basketball to the esteemed NBA was a jolt for Odom, a revelation of the elevated standards and fierce competition the league presented.
Odom Recalls NBA Awakenings
In a candid revelation on the "Knuckleheads Podcast," Odom spoke of his early encounters, particularly with two NBA legends.
He shared, "Growing up, my idol was Magic Johnson. But during my early years in the NBA, it was Kevin Garnett who held that place. KG's unmatched intensity was almost intimidating. Despite my efforts, he was the first to genuinely challenge me in the league.
Following him was the great Dirk Nowitzki." Kevin Garnett, known for his unwavering defensive skills, is often celebrated as one of the most formidable big men in NBA history. While his offensive flair might not be his strongest suit, Garnett's impeccable defense earned him a reputation that will forever resonate.
With a career spanning the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets, the 15-time All-Star won an NBA championship in 2008 and secured the MVP title in 2004. On the other hand, Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks stalwart, remained loyal to the franchise from 1998 to 2019.
He guided them to a triumphant 2011 season, earning himself the Finals MVP accolade. In addition, his contributions were recognized in 2007 when he was crowned NBA MVP. While Odom's own career experienced various highs and lows, he too left a considerable impact.
From his initial stint with the LA Clippers (1999-2003) to claiming two NBA championship titles with the Lakers (2009, 2010), he also clinched the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2011. However, Odom's journey wasn't always smooth sailing.
After a few underwhelming seasons with the Mavericks and Clippers (2011-2013), he ventured overseas for a brief tenure in Spain. What followed were life-threatening bouts with addiction, leading to near-fatal overdoses in 2015 and 2016.
Fortunately, he has since been battling his demons, constantly striving for betterment, as he admitted to podcast hosts Richardson and Miles.