Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Lamar Odom's Sixth Man of the Year award epitomizes his selfless approach to basketball and life

With tears watering his eyes, Lakers forward Lamar Odom stood at the lectern and stared at everybody watching him.

He had just accepted the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award Tuesday in a gathering at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel on W. Century Blvd. He shared a few laughs from the stage to the seats where Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton sat and had been given the floor to bask in the spotlight.

Odom's assumed that role plenty of times before, whether on the hardwood at Staples Center or on his newly released reality television show, "Khloe and Lamar." As he's demonstrated in both those instances, he deflected the attention. What caused his eyes to water didn't involve earning an award General Manager Mitch Kupchak considered "overdue." It involved accepting an accolade and attaching everyone's else's role in it.

From his contention that his wife Khloe Kardashian and her extended family has made him feel more balanced outside of basketball to the teammates that consider him their locker room favorites, Odom stared at them, thanked them and then teared up. Odom didn't apply acceptance speech protocol. Odom's explanation on what made him so emotional defines his selfless approach to basketball and life.

"Basketball has given me everything I love," said Odom, who told The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner that his emotions sparked because his mother, Cathy Mercer, and grandmother, Mildred Mercer, had raised him in New York, but now both are deceased.."It’s taken me to so many different places. It brought me across so many different people."

No where was an individual award attached to that concept of selflessness than a sixth man award. The honor pointed to his willingness to come off the bench for the third consecutive season without much complaint. It reflected what Bryant argued proved to be Odom's most "consistent season"  in his 12-year career after averaging a third-best 14.4 points on 53% shooting and a third-best 8.7 rebounds. And it was an accolade ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy argued was an "insult" because Odom's talent far exceeds most reserves.

By no means did this award lack commentary on Odom's individual desires. He acknowledged this served as good ammo for all the criticism labeling him as an "underachiever," failing to fulfill a goal outlined this summer in appearing in his first NBA All-Star game and that he always considered himself an elite basketball player ever since growing up in New York. 

The backdrop displayed Tuesday served as more than just possibly inspiring Odom to rebound from a rare poor effort in the Lakers' 109-100 Game 1 loss Sunday to New Orleans where he posted 10 points on three-of-six shooting and only one board. It revealed that in the end it's the people surrounding the game that drive him than the initial accolades themselves. That's why Odom is seeking team approval to leave the award at the scorers table as a tribute to the fans at Staples Center who greet him with a loud reception when he enters the lineup.

Odom didn't always believe in that concept when Lakers Coach Phil Jackson shared his preference he come off the bench entering 2008 training camp. Knowing he was entering a free agent year, Odom adamantly refused it. But there was one unspecified day he entered the locker room and noticed the scenery: Bryant, Gasol, Fisher, a healthy Andrew Bynum, and Trevor Ariza. He figured it'd be much better working to make them happy and help secure his first NBA championship than add any additional individual accolades he could receive. Bryant likened that role to what Robert Horry provided during the Lakers' three-peat seasons from 2000-2002. Likewise, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson compared Odom to former Bulls guard Toni Kukoc, who won the league's sixth man of the year award in 1996 and played for the Bulls under Jackson from 1993-1998. Jackson, however, sees one difference. 

"There’s one thing that’d be similar, but Lamar wouldn’t express it," Jackson said. "Toni said, I’d rather be starting.  Odom in fact openly considered himself a sixth man, arguing. "I’m one of those guys that has to come into the game and to change the momentum." But it doesn't matter so much as what Odom sees himself as it does his willingness to adapt to situations.

That includes his role: Lakers center Andrew Bynum missed the first 24 games because of offseason surgery, and Odom gladly filled his starting spot. Jackson returned Bynum back in the lineup as a reserve for only seven games before granting him his permanent starting position, and Odom willingly moved back to a bench position.  Bynum served a two-game suspension last month for acquiring a flagrant foul type 1 on Minnesota's Michael Beasley, and Odom went through the same process in returning to the starting linep and then reverting back to reserves.

That includes his versatility: Focus on how he provides coast-to-coast dunks and layups and you overlook his ability to fire outlook passes on those same sequences. Focus on how his post presence takes pressure off Gasol, widens the floor for the backcourt and gives him space to post up or hit a mid-range jumper and you overlook his ability to direct the offense up top and hit outside shots. Focus on his ability to seamlessly fill in for Bynum's absence and you overlook the instant chemistry he forged with the second unit in Barnes, Steve Blake and Shannon Brown.

And most importantly it juxtaposes how he's different from the other Lakers.

A question to Bryant about whether he'd ever accept a bench role is met with a sneer and he later admits the difference between him and Odom: "I’m an a.... He’s actually a nice guy. That’s the heart of the matter."

A question to Gasol about how Odom proves willing to accept being a reserve quickly leads into his own self examination that he wouldn't handle a bench demotion properly:  "I’d handle it a lot worse than he has. It would take a while for me to accept it and be okay with it."

A question to Fisher about how Odom distinguishes among everyone else goes beyond his talent: "There are a lot of days without him that guys are going to work as opposed to playing the game. Lamar a lot of times makes it feel like a game."

Clearly, Odom's value goes beyond the X's and O's.

"I tell everybody he’s a better person than a basketball player," said Jamie Sangouthai, Odom's longtime best friend that runs a product line with him titled Rich Soil. "He's obviously a good basketball player."

Sangouthai would know. In 2008, he was diagnosed with diverticulitis, a digestive disease that he said required three surgeries. Besides helping with his medical expenses, Odom also had his teammates call Sangouthai with well wishes, a task they so willingly followed that Sangouthai said they soon engaged in trash talking.

That shouldn't be surprising, considering how they interact with Odom. The Lakers have continually teased Odom for his unisex fragrance ad where he appears nearly naked with Kardashian, a clip that even made into one of Jackson's film sessions. Though most of his teammates have refused watching the show, they genuinely express happiness over his enhanced celebrity profile. And the team immediately cheered when a reporter asked if he planned on giving the team any gifts, similar to when Bryant bought the team watches he won the 2007-08 regular-season MVP. 

See the two worlds merge together. Kardashian, her mother, Kris Jenner and Sangouthai sat on one row. Bryant, Fisher, Gasol, Walton, Shannon Brown, Derrick Caracter and Trey Johnson sat in another. It's clear how much Odom means to other people. 

"It’s the coolest feeling to see how happy he is," Kardashian said. "I’m so proud of him."

That appreciation is the greatest gift of all, what drives Odom and why he felt overwhelmed.

"I'm blessed," he said. "Some people call it luck, I call it blessed. I'm in a great position, I hope it keeps going. I'm living the dream a little bit. I just hope it keeps going." 

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

Comments () | Archives (41)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Nice speech except for the part about playing at a high level all the time and impacting the game being his role NOW. Lamar, that's always been your role.

Congrats LO!!!

and for you Kobe haters (I guess you are smarter than the players in the NBA!?):

LO is the unanimous choice for this award, Terry is not even that close. I think LO should aim higher because he's capable of doing great things if he'll just be ambitious in the Laker line up. We don't want a selfless LO giving out the ball to opponents or giving away free throw shooting, we want a selfish LO to grab it all from limelight to score to stat sheet and most of all mend fences with his first family in NY. There was a report that he wanted his minor children to appear in the reality tv and it was blocked by his former girlfriend and mother of his children in court. Whatever the shortcomings in that area, he has compensated with hard work by trying harder to conquer all his demons in the past with par excellence on his other roles like his efforts for the Lakers, fame and fortune for the Kardashians and helped in getting the gold medal for the USA team during the FIBA tournament.

"I’m one of those guys that has to come into the game and to change the momentum." - LO

~~The killer bees and LO taking over the game is the prescription in winning the Championship. Without of them in the dichotomy, Lakers is lopsidedly handicapped by their slowness in execution in the starting line up. The bench are the spark plugs which will zoomed in and out and provide the winning margin, so far they acting like a nice clock with well placed numbers but timing is bad, the second , the minute and the hour hands don't jibe and poorly synchronized. Blake and Barnes are recovering from their illness, Shannon is backsliding, whether it's Bynum/Artest/GAsol they are giving a little help. I hope I will be wrong for tomorrow's game. We want action and we want domination because we are spoiled fans. We demand it. lmao!

Congrats LO! So proud!

I'm so happy for LO. It's nice to see him receive recognition for his hard work and superb performance.

I know LO will read this post before he goes to bed.

Lamar, listen, you are NBA humble. You more than deserved this award. You said some nice things at the press conference today. Say good night to Klhoe and get some sleep. We have a big game tomorrow. We need to kick some NOH butt.

Oh, and this time tell the camera guys to turn them off when the lights go out.

@Edwin – nice salute to the Hornets by the songwriter extraordinaire. Me like.

@LT – I would say Ginobli is very athletic. If your game resembled Manu…then like Spike said…You Got Game…lol.

@Bay to LA - Yes, peeps are quick to revert back to the "soft" tag on Pau, but criticism is part of the territory. Kobe received a ton of criticism in losses in 04, 06, 08...etc. I think we're over analyzing this whole Pau situation...but I guess that's what happens when we have two days between games.

Gasol is not soft he is gastrong but playing with kobe the ballhog just gets him down sometimes. He went on a 1 day strike to show people that if he doesn't play well the lakers will struggle. Even though kobe shot 50% for once and scored 34 points the lakers were still whipped soundly by a 6' midget. Without pau the lakers would revert to the 2007 lakers where kobe would score plenty points without going anywhere. Yall fools better recognize and get down on both knees and thank the heavenly stars that Pau is on our team. Just hope Pau is not on a two day strike. Scoring plenty points is not necessarily playing good basketball kobe. Good basketball is getting everyone involved like what our 6th man said.

Thanks LRob for the kudos.... let's now sing the LA national anthem for the Lakers. Bring us back that lost pride by striking the NO out tomorrow.

LO congrats but stop being a deadbeat dad man and take care of your kids man! Your wife is a gold digger and don't really love you she just like the media exposure. Your kids will be there for you and really loves you. The Priest loves and takes care of his children.

"@Bay to LA - Yes, peeps are quick to revert back to the "soft" tag on Pau, but criticism is part of the territory. Kobe received a ton of criticism in losses in 04, 06, 08...etc. I think we're over analyzing this whole Pau situation...but I guess that's what happens when we have two days between games.

Posted by: LRob | April 19, 2011 at 09:50 PM "

Yeah it could be overanalysis to what was simply a bad game. Since he's such a finesse player, it's hard for him to look like he's giving 100% if he isn't playing well. I just notice he has a tendency to criticize the team's focus and gameplan after every "soft" game. It's easy to infer that he's frustrated with teammates or coaching staff from that but only he really knows the situation.

our strength is our length, their strength is Chris Paul, so lets get the ball inside to our bigs and double team Chris Paul.

For those looking for Pau to take some ownership of his poor performance. Here's what he said this evening.....

"I know when I have to be more aggressive and I know when I just have to be more productive out there. I wasn't able to do that in Game 1," Gasol said. "It's more my fault than their credit. I just have to do a better job on being more assertive out there, establishing myself, getting good position [and] making myself available for my teammates to deliver the ball. That's about it."

"I expect myself to perform, it's not what anybody else thinks or believes," Gasol said. "I know when I play well and when I play bad and my first game was bad. I need to play better. So, I don't need to focus on the obvious or comments that are not positive. It is what it is. It's part of the deal."


In keeping with your Randy Newman flow, I'll offer up this one he wrote as a reminder to the Lakers....losing to NO is "not the way to have fun".

Three Dog Night - Mama Told Me Not to Come.

@LROB … Fair enough, Pau. Now let’s walk the walk. Thanks, LRob.
We definitely need Pau to show up if we are going to three-peat.

whats up lakernation.. yellofever was very disgusted the past few days and needed some time to off.. after further deliberation i've decided to break my brief self imposed silence and now i'm ready for game 2.. just reviewed some film from game 1 and have a few comments:

-- DFISH: i really admire his strong will and competitive spirit but the man doesnt have a chinamans chance of containing cp3.. lets just call a spade a spade here... this is an absolute nightmare matchup for him and even more horrifying for us fans to watch.. if the game is close in crunch time phillip better get ready to send that double team fast and not let cp3 completely burn us again down the stretch...cp3 was on another energy level in the 4th and most of that can be attributed to his "fresh legs" of not having to expand *ANY* energy all game defensively on dfish.

-- LAMAR: lets make this short n sweet... pls dont shoot the 3 and attack the freakin basket.

-- PAU: just when you thought he flipped the switched he just got punked by carl freakin landry.. its okay wont happen again. the switch wasnt flipped yet.. now it is.. i promise.. and have no doubt our spaniard will take care of business next game.

-- KILLER B's: consistent benchplay is a HUGE concern now with the health of our killer Bs so need big game from our starters and especially shannon... barnes clearly doesnt have his timing.. blake wont be close to game shape and that dude jarrett jack scares me.. now theres a real baller who sets the tone of their bench... phil please need your help here with some adjustments!

-- RON RON: common i really wanna see you kiss those biceps tomorrow night.

-- BYNUM: got some tough calls last game but stay aggressive and you shall be rewarded big fella

-- PAULA PIERCE: undisputed yellofever NBA public enemy #1... theres no player in the NBA i hate more.. stand the F**K UP and play like a man.

-- NBA REFS: you incompetent dishonorable pathetic excuses for a human being.. you've turned this game into a freakin barnum and bailey circus show.. these playoffs easily ranks as one of the WORST officiated postseasons of all time so far... i dont know why i continue to be a fan and support this joke of a league. i really do hate myself for that.

now on to game 2.. GO LAKERS!

I can go for weeks, even months without taking a peek here.
Conspicuous by his absence, I had felt something was amiss
when I stopped seeing Rick Friedman posts some time ago.

Not seeking any personal information, I sent an email to the board
manager here, wondering if Rick was still with us, but got no response,
which I can fully appreciate...after all, I am a Faker hating antagonist
on this board. There is no denying it because it is absolutely true.

Even so, after reading Fatty's comments today,
I am saddened with the confirmation that Rick is gone.
Rick and I locked horned on several occasions,
but long ago, I began to lay off of Rick as I felt
he was wound far too tight. I sensed that my remarks truly troubled him,
and furthermore, putting my nurse’s cap back on,
somehow sensed that they were doing him no good.
The man loved his Lakers, and was hyper-sensitive about it.

While I would recommend that none of you girls invest
your hearts and souls too deeply in games, or game players of any type,
Rick truly loved his team.
I think he derived both deep pleasure, and pain from this involvement.
His comments were honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.
He was what it means to be a real fan.
He was a Laker fan, unequivocally.
The Comment of the Day named after him,
couldn’t have more meaning or be a more fitting tribute.
Rest in peace Rick.

Now, for the rest of you dolts...

You would be nowhere, get it, nowhere without Pau.
He, singularly, is why the Lakers have played in Championship games
three years in a row (sorry, there won’t be a fourth).
Come on. How sharp a basketball mind does one need to see that?

Unlike Saint Cryant, and so many others, Paula is not defined
by a game. That’s not who he is. He just happens to be a seven-foot
tall athlete who plays basketball at a world class level,
anywhere in the world. He is making millions doing it.
The man is no fool. I seriously doubt that he (personally) gives a hoot
what you little ones think.

After basketball, when the high school grad, cheap-shot,
adulteress, ego-maniac (were it not for his millions)
would be shining King Lebron’s shoes...

Pau will be healing people, as a physician.
Get your heads on straight.

I won't be back until probably two days after N'Oluns mops the floor
with you (gonna pick-and-roll your noses), so by all means,
do hold your breaths.

Go Kings!


I'm coming here late, a little after 2:00 AM, Austin time. It's nice to read MM's write-up, nice to read the comments by familiar voices - Edwin, LRob, Tom, Fatty, etc..

As for Sonny B, you're just evermore the cranky contrarian, aren't you? And stop trying to predict an NO mopdown, you know it's not going to happen.

great article but i think you missed the point of his tears...he clearly says he wishes there were some people here to see it. he's referring to his lost loved ones especially his mom who passed when he was young, his grandma who raised him and his son who passed of SIDs before he turned 1

KisofDeath - I added the sentiments about his lost ones. But the quote is in direct reference to when I asked him about his emotions

I congratulated LO in my last post and started singing sucky W.A.S.P. songs in his honor but at the same time I feel sorry for him for being married to a total bimbo. Wow, that show is total trash! Not surprisingly...

On Pau: As this will continue to be a horrible 1st round I predict Pau will have one of those games where he shines in the 1st qt with maybe 10 points and a bunch of boards and then gradually disappears. We've seen too many of those during the season. I'm sorry to have to point this out as I am a big supporter of Pau and his excellent skills.

Still 16 W:s to go...

2002 Western Conference Finals
L.A. Lakers 4 - 3 Sacramento Kings

2001 Western Conference Semis
L.A. Lakers 4 - 0 Sacramento Kings

2000 Western Conference 1st Rd
L.A. Lakers 3 - 2 Sacramento Kings

1984 Western Conference 1st Rd
L.A. Lakers 3 - 0 Kansas City Kings

1955 Western Division Semis
Minneapolis Lakers 2 - 1 Rochester Royals

1954 Western Division Finals
Minneapolis Lakers 2 - 1 Rochester Royals

1954 Round Robin
Minneapolis Lakers 1 - 0 Rochester Royals

1952 Western Division Finals
Minneapolis Lakers 3 - 1 Rochester Royals

1951 Western Division Finals
Minneapolis Lakers 1 - 3 Rochester Royals

1950 Central Division Tie
Minneapolis Lakers 1 - 0 Rochester Royals

1949 Western Division Finals
Minneapolis Lakers 2 - 0 Rochester Royals

Playoffs Series Won:
Lakers: 10
*Kings: 1

*= RIP


No wonder a certain Kings fan spew an insurmountable amount of hate towards the Lakers.

No rivalry here.



Congrats LO! Well deserved!!!


Doesn't seem to have received a lot of attention due to the playoffs going on, but Coach Adelman's out of Houston.

I suppose it's a bit early for this kind of talk, but an experienced coach looking for a job, hmm.

Wonder if Shaw is a lock to take over next year, or who Kobe will allow to take over for PJ.

Adelman should be in the running.

Anyone remember Bob Davies of the Rochester Royals, the first Cousy, great guard, colorful player.

Maverick alert, they are playing more aggressivly on both ends, Dirk is a different animal, Peja` and Kidd offer another dimension. Portland needs to put a big man on Dirk, NOW.

Awesome LO! 1st Laker to win the 6th Man award and I'm so happy for him. This is something that can really propel Lamar and help this team to a 3-peat. We saw how winning the FIBA tourney really lifted LO. I am hoping for an immediate lift with this only helps the Lakers.

And its PLAYOFF GAME DAY! Psyched present and ready to roll!

Cheers all - PLG

Good morning! Its game day! We are excited! We are ready to roll! We can't wait for tonights game! And...... we can only hope the Lakers feel the same way!

Let's go Lakers!


you wrote: 3. I’m not saying Kareem has more class than Kobe. And I’m not getting into their non basketball related issues. You brought up Kobe’s professionalism as it relates to commenting about his teammates. Thus, I asked where that professionalism in 07 was. You said, in essence, you can’t be professional with Kwame and Smush as your teammates. That’s why I compared Kareem’s team from the 77 playoffs vs. Portland. My point is that tirade wasn’t professional. So if you think it was okay then we can agree to disagree.

Posted by: LRob | April 19, 2011 at 08:38 PM

my response:

In one way the tirade was completely professional and in another way it

1. Why it's professional? Because every professional I've ever talked to
has an opinion about his co-workers. Kobe was giving an opinion about
his profession and his possible co-worker.

2. Why it was un-professional? It happened in a *PARKING LOT*! If he
had done it on ESPN, your case would be *MUCH* stronger.

Do you think Magic was un-professional for getting his coach fired?

What about the stories re: D-Will & Mr. Sloan?

In some ways, it's similar to Kobe's anti-gay slur. If he says it in his house,
does he get fined 100K ? No. If he says it in his hotel room in china, does
he get fined 100K ? No. He had the misfortune to say it when the camera
was on him.

If I were Kobe, I'd probably never do one-on-one's with my supposed fans
ever again. Why? Because to secretly tape it and then post it to youtube
was without honor, in my opinion. It's called trust. Once you break the
trust, you don't get it back w/o a lot of hard work. [ read a 4 mil ring for
the wife, and his complete obedience to Queen Vanessa. and no. I'm not
saying that she's in the wrong for whatever she got from him/did to him. ]

That's my .02 cents. We can agree to disagree.

Have a great day.

Go Kobe!
Go Lakers!!!

"Thank you all," Gasol said. "Have a nice day."

If I was New Orleans, that seemingly simple statement would have me worried. The future doctor let everyone know, its back to business as usual.

As to why Sunday's AM perfomance was so awful? I think the reason is obvious, the game started early and this temperamental seven foot Spanish warrior was still asleep. (A 12:30 start time to a NBA player on the West Coast, is comparable to a farmer getting up early to milk the cows)

To compete well in the NBA, you need at least two things working well together, the body and the brain. Gasol only had one functioning on Sunday. His body was trying to play, but his brain wasn't cooperating. When the body asked for direction, the brain responded with a yawn and a sleepy sounding 'uh!'.

Surely we can all relate to this. I can get up early and function without my brain turned on yet. Its not too difficult to let the dogs out, make some coffee, and hit the toilet without missing, but ask me to think, no way.

So that simple statement by a well manored young man, shows me that Pau Gasol is back to his normal self. He's ready to play, and ready to dominate. Which is good for us, but not so good for the Hornets.

'Thank you all' for reading this, and 'Have a nice day' in a Pau Gasol sort of way.

2002 Western Conference Finals
L.A. Lakers 4 - 3 Sacramento Kings

There should be asterisk on that one.


There was an asterisk on that series. *** The Kings would have won if they didn't choke and made their free throws. They were a good team, but just didn't have the heart of a champion like the Lakers.

Posted by: yellofever | April 19, 2011 at 11:13 PM


all i read was kiss and bicep.

i tweeted pau "black swan tomorrow..."

i hope he read the message

@Sonny B – I saw your nice comments regarding Rick Friedman. Watch it you’ll ruin your image.

@Art – I like coach Adelman and his offensive schemes, but still prefer Shaw and the continuation of a successful system.

@hopalong – Davies was before my time, but I have read about what a showman he was.


We can’t go by “what ifs” on Kobe comments. We can only go by the facts. You’re straddling the fence on me, which is a surprise because you’re usually pretty definitive. Either you felt his comments were professional or unprofessional.

No, I didn’t think Magic, DWill or Sloan was unprofessional.

One summer NOT taken off and the guy wins 6th man DESERVEDLY (and should have gone to the All-Star game)

Line this guy up for some more team USA this summer... I LOVE the new Lamar!

It's time The Lake Show put their inconsistency behind and move forward. I'm sure many teams are looking ahead to their goals and looking back at us thinking we're done. This has been an awkward season, but now the only that matters is 16 victories. Summer is still a while away, let's focus on tonight only today. As of today, the only series that matters is the one we're in. FOCUS.


Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

I am fully behind LO for the Sixth Man Award. He went after it this years, and got more aggressive offensively, shooting more, driving more and passing less. It made him a lot more dangerous and it helps his team.

I do think LO chased numbers this year - specifically points and rebounding. More than ever he put his effort into the things that ARE in the box score, and it got him noticed.

His defense, on the other hand, seemed a little half-hearted to me at times. That is the area he has to step up in the playoffs.

ok, everybody have the donner party mentality out of their system? good because it is time to let go of the frustration and support our team. right now sonny belfast is now just one behind a stopped clock,(which is correct twice a day),in that we would not have had parades the last two years without pau.i have to come correct and say that we are sooo spoiled. we are too close to hollywood, with all it's drama. pau is not soft. the problem is that he's not so strong and with his high center of gravity.but is there ANY big besides dirk that has pau's touch and foot work? i know there are bigger and stronger guys out there but no one close with pau's skill sets


It was definitely chilling and cool to see just how much Lamar's teammates care about him



In Case You Missed It...


All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



About the Bloggers

Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »

Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:

In Case You Missed It...