10/31/2012 - 09:55
Second Clips Stint Offers Shot at Redemption
During the 2011-2012 season, Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Clippers were moving in entirely different directions.
Lamar dealt with loss off the court and it impacted his focus on the court, which translated into one of the toughest seasons of his 12-year career. On the other side of the spectrum, the Clippers had one of the most successful seasons in recent franchise history.
They made the postseason for the first time in six years and just the second time since the turn of the century. They planted roots that they hope will grow and flourish for years to come, but LA knows there is still work to be done to reach their championship potential.
Perhaps it's only fitting then, that they acquired a player with a championship past and something to prove.
If all goes as planned, both will wind up benefitting. The two will come together for the 2012-2013 season, hoping to change fortunes and shift the balance of power in the Los Angeles sports landscape.
"What I'm going to do is wear my heart on my sleeve again," Lamar said. "I'll make this team that gave me the opportunity to play for them proud."
The move back to LA also gives LO a chance to reunite with former teammate Caron Butler. The pair played together with both the Miami Heat and LA Lakers, developing a bond both on and off the court.
"Our times on the road, on buses or planes, meant a lot to me," Butler said. "We always reflected on where we came from, and our stories are very similar. We really related on a lot of personal things."
Lamar and Butler have won NBA Championships, but are thrilled for a chance to win a ring together.
"The NBA journey took us so many places, and we've had our own individual successes," Odom said. "But to come back and win it together would be extremely special."
After playing the first three games of the preseason with success off the bench, LO missed LA's final five warmup games with a bone bruise in his foot that he suffered during an early October preseason game in China. But LO returned to practice early this week confident he would be back in time for the opener against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night. He even joked with reporters after practice about how good he looked.
"I looked awesome," he laughed. "To prove to all the doubters, I was hitting shots, throwing the ball in backwards. I hit a sky hook. Right in their face. That was to all the doubters."
Lamar heads back to LA fully expecting to be the "Lamar Odom of 2010," as he puts it. Then with the Lakers, LO was a dominant force and won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
After one of the toughest years of his career, LO is in a happier place entering this season and it's showing (Getty Images).
As a sharpshooting big man with rebounding magnetism, LO will play a vital part in the success of the team. But Arash Markazi of ESPN.com wrote, it's Lamar's attitude that is most different about him from last season to this. He's put the things that held him back behind him and displays a fresh perspective on his latest Los Angeles opportunity.
"Odom says he believes he is in a happier place now than he was last season when he was part of the failed trade for Chris Paul to the Lakers and subsequently demanded to be traded anyway. He said he simply wasn't himself last year but is finding himself again and will return to his old ways once the season starts. Well, that's the plan, anyway."
In addition to adding Lamar, Los Angeles further solidified its core by adding, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, and Matt Barnes to support a starting lineup that remains unchanged. Markazi thinks that heading into the upcoming season the Clippers are quite possibly the deepest team in the NBA.
"The Clippers' bench could be one of the best in the league, highlighted by a pair of former Sixth Man of the Year award winners. Odom, if he returns to his old self, will be a versatile force on both ends of the floor."
Maxwell Ogden of Bleacher Report writes that LO possesses the type of tools Los Angeles desires to lead the team's vaunted second unit.
"The Los Angeles Clippers are a team that loves the idea of having multiple ball-handlers on the floor at all times. That's exactly what Odom has proven to be, which is why he'll fit in nicely on the offensive end of things."
His preseason action was limited, but Lamar is a versatile piece the Clippers need to succeed (Getty Images)
The best NBA teams of the past have proven that it takes not only superstars to win a title, but a deep bench with veteran players that know how to maximize their talent in any role. Lamar knows better than most that a good bench can take a team a long way and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register believes if the Clippers meet their potential, it will have as much to do with their reserve crew as their stars.
It's one thing assembling a bench with former stars such as Hill, Crawford and Odom. It's another thing to turn all that talent into victories and to turn those victories into a championship. If they get there, it'll be because Paul and Blake Griffin are superstars. But it'll also be because Crawford, Odom and Hill came up big off the bench.
FROM THE STANDS
Loyal fans stuck with Lamar through the tough times last season and are happy to see him back in LA with a chance to thrive. Many took to Twitter this week to proclaim the merits of LO and and the depth of the Clippers. A sample:
THE FINAL WORD
Lamar enters the new season seeking redemption and a chance to return to form while proving that last year was a fluke. The Clippers come in seeking validation that their 40-win season, and the highest win percentage in franchise history, which they posted last year in a shortened campaign, wasn't a fluke. Lamar will spend the next nine months trying to make it all work.
"I'm a competitor," LO said. "If it was chess, I would want to beat you. If it was a debate, I would want to beat you. I compete for a living. That's what I do."
- Why Lamar Odom Will Again Thrive as 6th Man with L.A. Clippers (Bleacher Report, September 14, 2012)
- Lamar Odom is Looking to Silence Doubters (LA Times, October 30, 2012)
- NBA Western Conference Preview (LA Times, October 28, 2012)
- Depth Not an Issue for this LA Team (ESPN Los Angeles, October 23, 2012)
- Which Odom will the Clippers Get? (ESPN Los Angeles, October 15, 2012)
- Lamar Odom Back at Practice, Wants to Prove He's "Lamar of 2010" (LA Daily News, October 29 2012)
- Clippers face questions as regular season looms (SB Nation Los Angeles, October 29 2012)
- Uncertainty surrounds Clippers (Fox Sports, October 28, 2012)
- Clippers add star power to bench (OC Register, October 29, 2012
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