Lamar Odom: Derek Fisher, Knicks Emotionally Reflect


For more than a decade, Lamar Odom was one of the most versatile players in the NBA. The 2011 Sixth Man of the Year was a 6’10” matchup nightmare, contributing in every phase of the game while helping the Los Angeles Lakers win two titles.

Thus, there was a feeling of universal heartbreak when TMZ reported that Odom is fighting for his life after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel.

Since that shocking news release, countless players have sent Odom their prayers and wishes. Former teammate Kobe Bryant left a preseason game early to sit by Odom’s side.

A number of Odom’s other ex-teammates have offered their thoughts and prayers.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher called Odom one of the greatest people he’s ever known.

"“It’s difficult news to hear,’’ Fisher said. “Obviously very personal to me. I think that oftentimes athletes, celebrities are judged by choices or decisions, and that’s not representative of who they are.“Lamar Odom was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. That’s the way I see him. I don’t see him through the prism of choices he has made. I view him through the heart and soul of the person he really is. I’m obviously hoping he can pull through this, [and] in some fortunate way, this becomes the beginning of a different ending.’’"

That’s all anyone can wish for Odom.

Fisher played with Odom from 2007 to 2011, winning two NBA championships as members of the Lakers. The two forged a close bond during that time, sharing both the court and locker room for four long and successful seasons.

For as great as Odom was on the floor, it was his selfless personality that Fisher most fondly remembers.

"“Just everyone’s happiness and wellbeing was always more important to him,’’ Fisher said. “That he was always willing to sacrifice his own opportunities, minutes, shots, at times he sacrifices other things in life to do for everyone else. Sometimes it left him in last place. That’s the type of person he is.’’"

That’s been the reoccurring theme in the comments made about Odom.

The former NBA star is experiencing a difficult time in his life, but he’s received support from an abundance of outlets. More people have positive things to say than negative, and that’s a telling sign.

Most of that praise has more to do with Odom as a man than it does Odom as a basketball player—an even more telling sign.

Nevertheless, we’d be remiss to ignore just how dynamic a player Odom was. He could defend just about every position, handle the ball in a guard-like manner, go to the post, shoot with distance, crash the boards and play the role of a facilitator.

Carmelo Anthony perfectly summarized Odom as a basketball player:

"“Lamar was a point forward, 6-10 coming out of high school,’’ Anthony said. “A lot of people will tell you, he was one of my favorite players coming out of high school, one of the best high-school players I’ve ever seen as a kid. That position, to be able to do the things he was able to do on the basketball court — to play the point guard, bring the ball up, defend 1 through 5. He had a multi-faceted game.’’"

Coach Fisher shared a similar sentiment.

"“I want to be careful not to say ‘was’ too many times,’’ Fisher said. “He’s still here. That means a lot to me. From a basketball standpoint, he’s an amazing teammate, amazing player that possesses all the skills necessary to do anything on the floor you needed done.“His defense and rebounding was more spectacular than what he could do with the basketball offensively. He was as close to the top reasons we won championships in 2009 and ’10.’’"

Odom was a truly unique and dynamic talent.

Odom rarely dominated games statistically, but he had his hand in just about everything that happened on both ends of the floor. That’s tough to find in any era, which is why he was able to play such a major role on two championship teams.

Once again, for as prolific a player as he was, the basketball talk has been drowned out.

When reporters asked the members of the Knicks what they thought of Odom, basketball was second on their mind. They spoke warmly about who Odom is as a person before touching upon what happened on the court.

Anthony did as much, speaking highly of Odom as an individual.

"“It’s sad,” he said. “I’ve known him personally since high school. He’s a friend of mine. It’s a sad situation. To see where he was at as a player or person and see where he’s at right now, all you can do is pray for him and his family.”“Last year Phil tried to bring him in. We reached out. My family is close to his family. We tried to reach out.’’"

Phil Jackson and the Knicks signed Odom to a contract last year, but were forced to release him when he was, “Unable to uphold the standards of an NBA player,” per Berman.

Odom, 35, may not play another game in the NBA. If that’s the case, his individual accolades, two NBA championships, Olympic bronze medal and FIBA World Championships gold medal tell an accurate story.

Odom was as special on the court as he is off of it.

The No. 4 overall selection in the 1999 NBA Draft has helped mold the future of the Association. Power forwards play with extreme versatility in today’s league, and Odom’s influence has been undeniable.

He isn’t the first and only of his kind, but his presence on national television was ubiquitous for a vast majority of his glorious career.

At this trying time, however, all that his former teammates prefer to think about is his good heart. He seems to have influenced his peers positively, and that’s what should be remembered.

The recently signed Sasha Vujacic, who played with Odom on the Lakers, affirmed those sentiments and offered optimism for his current situation.

"“We’re rooting for him,’’ said Vujacic, who played six seasons with Odom. “I think he will win this battle. He’s a guy with a heart of gold. Right now he’s fighting the battle of his life and we should be all cheering for him.’’"

Here’s hoping that Vujacic is 100 percent correct.

From every member of Daily Knicks, our thoughts and prayers are with Odom and his friends and family.

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