The warm embraces. The 45-second video montage. The loud cheers permeating throughout Staples Center.
It was an atmosphere that Mavericks forward and former Laker Lamar Odom acknowledged as "surreal." It was a feeling Lakers forward Derek Fisher acknowledged as "emotional." And following the Lakers' 73-70 win Monday over the Dallas Mavericks, it's a game that appeared to mark a turning point in Odom's development.
After averaging 6.8 points, five rebounds and a 31.2% shooting clip for Dallas, Odom already exceeded that average with seven first-quarter points. He cooled off with 10 points and four rebounds, but it's an effort that led both TNT analyst Charles Barkley and Fisher believing the game served as a positive cathartic experience.
"Lamar is going to be fine," Fisher said. "I think he obviously struggled with the situation here early. But he's a pro. He's continuing to develop in his maturism. I'm sure he'll be fine."
Many teammates have expressed upset emotions over the circumstances surrounding the Lakers accommodating Odom's trade demand, but they've all publicly supported the decision. The atmosphere surrounding Odom's return clearly showed how everyone on the Lakers genuinely missed his presence.
Well, at least most of it.
"We weren't sure whether to take all the stars and celebrities coming out to last night's game as a sign they were there for us. Or they were there for Lamar," Fisher said with a smile. "But it was definitely an emotional feeling in the building last night."
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org