Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register wrote:
Ron Artest has known Lamar Odom for 20 years and been right there for, as Odom says, “the triumphs and tragedies” of Odom’s life. Artest is fully aware how immersed Odom, reasonably famous for a never-an-All-Star basketball career, has become in the fashion and music scenes.
Now Odom has bumped the Brangelina brood and Jon Gosselin-plus-date off the tabloids’ top shelves with his whirlwind wedding to reality TV personality Khloe Kardashian.
“He would’ve made the media eventually for something anyway,” said Artest, who has been credited as the matchmaker even though he doesn’t know if that’s true. “So why not be in the media with a beautiful young lady?”
The bachelor party was Thursday, the wedding was Sunday and the opening of Lakers training camp was Tuesday. Odom did look a little ragged back at work Tuesday, when he tried to explain that his love is real, singing a hopeful note about how couples can be married 25 years without long engagements.
Yet he couldn’t say much out of deference to the Nov. 8 telecast of the wedding on E! (Conveniently for Lakers fans, it’s a night off in between the team’s two exhibition games against Golden State. According to the Lakers in attendance, once the sun went down and the paparazzi thus had no choice but to leave, things got lively.)
On Wednesday, the gym became Odom’s comfort zone again. He played ball and, as is his way, showed love for the game more openly than most.
Odom seemed to have forced a turnover by Josh Powell during the team’s scrimmage, and when Phil Jackson signaled with an extended arm that possession should go to Odom’s team, he danced over with a big grin and tried to high-five Jackson. (The coach didn’t reciprocate, not that it stopped Odom from slapping Jackson’s wrist anyway.)
When Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, playing the role of scrimmage ref, overruled Jackson’s call, Odom protested but managed to laugh about that, too.
After practice ended, Odom came off the court and engaged a group of reporters in a high-energy conversation about the upcoming baseball playoffs and the state of the NFL.
In bare feet, with just tape around his ankles, and holding his socks-stuffed-in sneakers in his left hand the whole time, Odom re-enacted Brett Favre’s every move on the miraculous winning touchdown pass that lifted the Vikings over the 49ers. (The groom still managed to get his football fix Sunday, apparently!)
The little pink gum moved every which way around his teeth and tongue as Odom kept jabbering away about the boxing lessons he did every other day for two months of the summer. He said the effect is “incredible” and his whole body feels different now. He hiked up his purple shorts in an effort to display how much stronger his thighs feel.
Although Phil Jackson later kidded that the effect is a result of Odom having never worked out in any capacity during any previous offseason, Odom’s longtime personal trainer Robbie Davis agreed that the boxing has helped, saying of Odom: “He’s very fit.”
When he’s all revved up, Odom speaks all in questions, and he was soon doing so as he kept talking: “You’ve got to be strong from your ankles to your neck, right? To take a punch? You know what I mean?” A left-handed baller, Odom suggested that boxing right-handed would create muscle memory for all the right-handed layups he never makes.
He showed how his boxing stance is a slight crouch, similar to proper basketball positioning for defensive slides. He chattered on about how he liked that it felt “combative” and believed he would be a better defender to stand up alongside Artest.
Odom shared his workout mindset, saying: “I’m just thinking, ‘I’m gonna stay in there. I’m not a (wussy) anymore. Not scared to take a punch.’ And it just made me think of competing at the highest level, just one-on-one. Warriors.”
Lamar being Lamar – he’s the social-butterfly sort who simply knows too many people – he couldn’t remember his boxing trainer’s last name when raving about him Wednesday. All the hours put in were, in fact, at Terry Claybon’s LB4LB gym, and this is not a mere peripheral note to this story.
Claybon trained Denzel Washington for “The Hurricane” and Matt Damon for “The Bourne Ultimatum.” Claybon has also trained Tom Brady. And Tyra Banks. And Snoop Dogg.
There’s a reason Odom went there to work out. Artest is right; in NBA history there has never been a player so willing to pass up shots who has been so desirous of the spotlight. He definitely wants to win, but he wants much more to be a winner.
Say he should be more responsible; NCAA investigators have. Say he should be a better parent; the mother of his two children has. Say he should be a greater player given his skills; well, just about everyone has gone there.
He has always been a piece of work … and an incomplete work of art.
In a vibrant life plagued by loss of life (his grandmother, his mother, his infant son), Odom is starting to make the kind of mark on the world he has always wanted. He has achieved his longtime goal of proving he’s “not a loser” – his words – by playing a key role in the Lakers’ championship.
He is thankfully re-signed, happily married and proudly portrayed on the cover of OK! Magazine – his sideways grin dancing behind all three Kardashian sisters.
Whether you believe it’s real life, this is the life for L.O.
It’ll be interesting to see who he is now that he’s finally playing from ahead, not behind.