When people think about the Lakers in the mid-to-late 2000s, the first name to come up will always be Kobe Bryant, and rightfully so. He was the leader of the team, and will go down as one of the best to ever play the game.
After Kobe, the next name brought up is usually Pau Gasol, as the Spaniard was Bryant’s trusted running mate, and he too will likely see his jersey hanging in the Staples Center rafters one day. Derek Fisher’s clutch heroics are constantly remembered, and Phil Jackson returning to the bench were also extremely important to the success of the Lakers.
But one player whose contributions were just as essential as anybody’s was Lamar Odom. Odom had point guard skills in a power forward’s body, and the Lakers winning back-to-back titles without him is very unlikely.
So today we remember, Odom, an unsung hero, by recalling his top-5 Lakers moments of all-time.
5. Behind-the-back finger roll/tip jam (2010)
One of the things that made Lamar Odom such a special player was his ability to handle the ball like a point guard, despite being 6’10. That was on display during this beautiful play early on in the 2010-11 season.
Odom is one of the best at the one-man fastbreak. In this instance he would take get the ball at halfcourt and, with Kobe Bryant filling the lane to his right, would fake the pass, bringing the ball around his back for what should have been a perfect finger roll.
Unfortunately, Odom would blow the finger roll, but it led to something even greater as he would rise back up and throw down a vicious one-hand putback dunk.
This play truly encompasses everything that made Odom great. His ballhandling ability is great, his passing ability had to be respected, and he could still rise up to throw down when the occasion called for it.
4. Back-to-Back Triple Doubles (2006)
Odom’s second season with the Lakers was an up-and-down one as Phil Jackson returned to the team. As most players tend to do, Odom struggled at times while learning the Triangle offense
But Odom began figuring things out near the end of the season, and the rest of the NBA had to witness what a player like Odom was capable of in the Triangle.
Once again, Odom’s versatility was on display as he would post back-to-back triple doubles as the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers in two must-win games as the team held on to a playoff berth.
The first saw Odom post a 15-13-10 line against the Warriors and he would follow that up with a 16-12-12 line against Portland. One triple-double is difficult, but doing two in consecutive games, when the season is on the line no less? That is why they called Lamar Odom ‘The Goods’ because he really had it all.
3. 28 point, 17 rebound performace w/ Kobe sick vs. Cleveland (2009)
Great players step up when they are needed most, and never was that more needed than when the Lakers traveled to Cleveland to play LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Unfortunately for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant was dealing with the flu. Someone had to take the reins and that someone was Odom.
Odom would respond with arguably the best individual game of his career and he led the Lakers with 28 points and 17 rebounds, including 7 offensive, as the Lakers defeated the Cavs 101-91, snapping Cleveland’s 23-game home winning streak.
Coincidentally, that was the 3rd streak the Lakers had ended that year, as they had ended separate Celtics win streaks of 19 and 12 games. But on this night Odom was the story.
It’s hard to be the best player on a court with two of the best players ever on the floor, but Odom managed to pull it off, showing he could be a lead dog if necessary.
Odom, of course, never had to be a lead dog with Kobe Bryant on the Lakers. In fact he sacrificed his game as much as anyone on the roster to help the team win. But he was rewarded for that sacrifice.
2. Winning Sixth Man of the Year Award (2011)
Before the 2008-09 season, Phil Jackson asked Lamar Odom to become the team’s sixth man, believing that Odom would be best served captaining the team’s second unit.
Odom wasn’t necessarily excited about moving to the bench, but accepted the role and the Lakers were better off because of it. And while he struggled to get used to it at first, he would come around and by 2011 he was undoubtedly the league’s best sixth man.
That point was made official at the end of the 2010-11 season when Odom was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting career high percentages from the field and 3-point range.
It takes a different kind of player to be able to come off the bench and still excel at what he does best. But that’s what made Odom who he is, he was so versatile that he could adapt to any situation that he was put in.
The Sixth Man of the Year award was validation of Odom’s importance to the Lakers even though he wasn’t a starter. But team success is always greater than individual success, which is why this is only number two.
1. Double-Double In Game 5 Of The 2009 NBA Finals
Lamar Odom had been on the Lakers for their entire re-building process. He was with the team when they missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, stuck with them through playoff losses to the Suns, and the unfortunate 2008 NBA Finals. When the Lakers returned to the Finals in 2009, they made sure they didn’t repeat the previous year’s failures.
With the Lakers one game away from being crowned champions, they left no doubt as to who was the best team in the league, and once again, there was Odom on the front line to ensure the victory.
Odom finished the closing Game 5 with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, in helping the Lakers to the championship, his first ever NBA championship.
This would complete Odom’s rise from simply a talented player who couldn’t fulfill his potential, to NBA champion, and he was a major reason the Lakers were able to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Kobe and Pau Gasol get most of the attention, and Derek Fisher’s clutch shots make all of the highlight reels, but the Lakers would not have been champions if it weren’t for Lamar Odom. And today we pay tribute to the man known as ‘The Goods.’