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Ron Artest and Lamar Odom size up the Jets-Patriots AFC playoff matchup

January 15, 2011 |  8:34 pm

Walk into the Lakers' locker room, and there Lamar Odom usually will be sitting at his locker talking to nearly anyone within sight about the day's sporting events.

When something involves his favorite teams, the New York Yankees and New York Giants, the Queens, N.Y., native will share his knowledge. When the topic pertains to other favorite teams shared among other reporters, he'll playfully tease them. And when anything good happens regarding the other New York teams, the Jets and Mets, he'll happily switch allegiances.

With the Jets visiting the New England Patriots on Sunday for an AFC semifinal matchup, Odom will have company. Lakers forward Ron Artest, a Queensbridge native, strictly adheres to the Jets-Mets connection, but even he admits he's hopping on the bandwagon after spending all season not really following much of the team's personnel. If Artest were a regular sports fan, however, he'd certainly not tune into the Lakers-Clippers game Sunday considering the 12:30 p.m. tipoff time starts an hour before the Jets-Patriots kickoff.

"I can't see a lot of people watching our game," Artest said. "Maybe hard-core Laker fans and Clipper fans. Other than that, everyboy will be tuned in. At halftime, people will be tuned into the Jet game.

"I'll probably TiVo it. I like to know the score [after the game]. But I still like to go home [and] watch it over just to see the plays and see what happened."

Odom, however, will tune in for other reasons. He admitted to being a bandwagon Jets fan, saying he's "rooting for the last team left" in New York. Even if he's just beginning to root for them, it seems as if he's more in tune with the Jets' personnel, however, than Artest. He conceded he doesn't know much about Jets Coach Rex Ryan other than his penchant for creating even more headline-grabbing stories than Artest, who admits, "I'm not happy about that". Odom pointed to Ryan as a significant reason for the Jets' turnaround. "He's given that team the right push it needed," he said. Artest acknowledged he knows very little about the Jets' roster, other than former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Moments after Odom explained how the Lakers' tweaked defensive scheme has led to a seven-game winning streak, he argued the Jets' fourth-ranked finish in total defense also largely led to their success. And both offered encouraging predictions regarding their favorite team they rarely follow (Artest) and their favorite team they just began liking (Odom).

"If there's one team built to beat [New England] in a matchup," Odom said, "the Jets are."

"We're not underdogs," Artest said. "We're the best."

--Mark Medina

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