The year was 1999. Lamar Odom was the fourth pick in the NBA Draft, joining a young Los Angeles Clippers team which had just won a horrendously low nine games in the Lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. Whilst the arrival of Odom only resulted in a 15 win season for the severely talent-deprived Clippers, things were starting to look up for LA’s other team.
The following season the Clips scored swingman Darius Miles with the third pick in the draft and followed that up in 2001 by winning the ultimate lottery prize in stud power forward Elton Brand (all three are pictured above). Thus led the path back to respectability — it was an exciting time to be a Clipper.
Odom showed what type of all-round performer he could be in his early years in the league. A 6’10” swingman, capable of handing and dishing the ball, shooting the three and pulling down a power forward’s share of rebounds is a rare commodity anywhere in the world. So it was no surprise that Odom was highly sought after as a free agent in 2003 when he signed with the Miami Heat.
We know the rest of the story from there. After one season in Heat colours, Odom was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade that netted Miami Shaquille O’Neal and an NBA title. For his part, Odom found himself back in LA, this time on the other side of town playing with the big boys in the Showtime strip.
In Los Angeles, the New York native became regarded as one of the most versatile players in the league — one who wins games. The Lakers went on to win the 2009 and 2010 NBA titles, with Odom being a key component in that success. The stats don’t lie.
All the while, the basketball player was also a star off the court. His marriage to and reality television appearances with Khloe Kardashian garnered him fame outside of the sports sphere.
Then, in December 2011, Odom received an early Christmas present from the Lakers — one that he really didn’t want, as he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. His 50 games with the Mavs were by far the worst of his career, averaging a career-low 11.6ppg at an ugly .352 from the field.
Clearly, Dallas was not the high-profile locale that Odom enjoyed in the big smoke of LA. You didn’t have to be a sports betting genius to connect Odom’s poor performance to his displeasure in leaving Hollywood.
Now comes the 2012 Draft Day news that Odom has been traded back to where it all began: the Los Angeles Clippers. Funnily enough, as part of the four-way trade, Clippers guard Mo Williams is dealt back to his first NBA club, the Utah Jazz. As part of the transaction, the Mavs gain a trade exception and cash from the Houston Rockets. The Rockets receive the draft rights to 20-year old Turkish big man, second round pick Furkan Aldemir from the Clippers.
It’s no long shot to guess that Odom will enjoy a renaissance in play after his return to LA. No doubt his screen-loving wife will be pleased too. The big factor here worth consideration is what this does for the Clippers and their title aspirations. Combining the multi-talented Odom with superstars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, as well as the likes of Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan could pay huge dividends for the Clips.