Lamar Odom was once at the peak of his pro basketball career and heralded as an intricate piece in the Los Angelos Lakers lineup. Unfortunately, that moment in history is now in Odom’s rear view and the basketball great has struggled, to say the least, with a few setbacks, namely that attributed to the addiction to a drug all to familiar to inner-city 80’s babies. Yes, crack cocaine became the culprit in Odom’s demise, but this article seeks to explore deeper viewpoints that have been introduced. These outliers illustrate a complex narrative and play a vital role in the writing of Lamar’s story. But if we’re not careful we run the risk of missing the main point while complicating the argument.
A walk down memory lane reveals Lamar Odom as a successful pro-basketball player with the L.A. Lakers for seven years before being traded to San Antonio in 2011. His production was mediocre and following year he was back in L.A., but this time with the Clippers opposed to the Lakers. Odom finally ended his pro-basketball days in 2013 after playing for an overseas, Spanish league.
During the stretch of 2011 to present day, a few other important events have taken place in Odom’s life. One of particular interest is the marriage to Kourtney Kardashian in September 2009. The marriage came to a screeching halt when, WHAM, Kourtney presented Odom with divorce paperwork in December 2013. Let’s view that portion of the argument in greater detail!
- The Black and White: Love finds Odom before quickly running out the door.
The divorce between Kourtney and Lamar is an important piece in the telling of Odom’s story. This is the foundation of the dialogue and provides context to the conflated dynamic of the situation. Why is this so important? Simple. Famous or not, Odom remains an African-American male in the public eye. It is rather easy for the media to conveniently attribute negative perceptions and stereotypes of African-American male ‘blackness’ in the telling of his side of the story (crazed, addicted, sex-aholic). Kourtney on the other hand, remains a Caucasian female in the public eye. She is afforded and receives the remorseful sentiment of a world convinced she, herself alone, is receiving the short end of the stick of their marriage. Kourtney’s story reads of one severely suffering and caught up in the tangled web of divorce from a demonized African-American male.
This point alone adds a layer of perspective in Odom’s and Kourtney’s story. Odom deals with the terrible reality of drug addiction but also is forced to bear the weight of constant negative public perception presented and supported be the media.
I can’t say enough the role race plays in this story. The racial lens provides a backdrop which some may not realize plays a part in our basic understanding and shaping of the story. Which, however true, nonetheless, complicates Odom’s story if we don’t task ourselves to understand the foundation before adding additional layering. Divorce itself, by nature, is an ugly process and it tends to be a slandering show (what side can put the most blame on the next). A few questions we should ask as we explore or offer opinion, is what enticed these two to marry in the first place and what role does race play in the public eye as the portrayal or demonization of the other ensues.
- The Hint of Grey: After love runs out the door, Odom receives an even harsher reality.
As stated earlier, Odom was once an important player on the L.A. Lakers playing alongside superstar, Kobe Bryant. When the troubles of addiction and divorce talk arose, Kobe and the L.A. Lakers front office offered little, if any, help to Odom. Not that the Lakers paid Kobe millions to be a relationship or life counselor, but he was the ‘captain’ of the team after all (perhaps this is because Kobe was going through his own 150 million dollar relationship blunder). Being the captain of a national powerhouse like L.A. comes with tremendous responsibility. Odom, at the time, was an important piece in the Lakers lineup and perhaps a gentle nudge or a constructive, real-life conversation with Odom could have changed the outlook of Odom’s situation.
Perhaps, Kobe and the Lakers did have a conversation with Odom keeping it shall we say, 100! The point is it has never been reported by the media that Kobe and Lamar had one of those type of conversations. And one thing we know about the media is that they report it all!
This point is important to Odom’s story for two main reasons 1) Odom receives little help or direction from basketball superstar, Bryant or the L.A. Lakers management and 2) In the ensuing years to come, Odom begins getting slandered by the media with negative coverage attributed to his drug addiction by way of the divorce.
- The Darker Grey Matter: Addiction, itself, is not really understood.
Odom not only faced and is still facing highly publicized divorce proceedings, but he dealt with lack of support from his pro-basketball team captain and front office and is being portrayed as an addicted drug fool to say the least. Let’s stop there. I repeat, he is addicted to a powerful drug.
Many Americans can’t say they ever have dealt directly with an addicted family member or unrelated associate. Few can, however, say they have and those are the few I argue may relate to Odom’s list of problems on a different plane.
Once the dust settles and we are done pointing fingers and attributing blame, Odom remains “addicted” to a drug that has torn countless happy homes over the past several decades. The situation should be first viewed and treated as an addiction problem before any of the lengthy alternative points are thrust into the discussion.