Lamar Odom Q + A
SLAMonline sits down with Team USA’s elder statesman.
by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
I never fathomed the day that I would consider Lamar Odom “an old man.” Not in a bad way, old, but old in a relative sense.
As Team USA basketball prepares for its next challenge, competing in the FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on August 28, LO has been added to this roster because he’s a two-time NBA champion and provides a veteran presence. Odom is the second oldest person on the team (Chauncey Billups, 34, is the oldest), and the average age is 25. The competition in Turkey will be fierce, and Team USA is counting on Odom to keep his head when all about him is losing their minds and blaming it on Coach K, Durant, or the ball boy. (Kipling)
I had the opportunity to talk with Lamar for a couple of minutes at NikeTown in New York while promoting Nike’s World Basketball Festival (in New York from August 12-15). We chatted about his role on Team USA, his relationship with Ron Artest, and his future with the Lakers and in the NBA.
SLAM: You’ve been involved with Team USA Basketball since the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Talk about the wars you’ve gone through in practice and what’s it like with this current crop of players in 2010.
Lamar Odom: In 2004, I was out to prove myself. Now in 2010, the younger players here are putting in work and really trying to prove themselves not only to the coaches but to their peers. It’s a highly competitive environment.
SLAM: Talk about your impact and role on this team…
LO: My role is to bring a winning mentality to the squad. It’s been three long seasons, going to the Finals three years in a row, so I don’t necessarily have anything to prove. My job is to be a veteran leader and provide flexibility in the system.
SLAM: Tell us a little bit about how your relationship with Ron Artest has evolved since growing up in NYC.
LO: It’s funny, I’ve actually known Ron since we were about 11 or 12 years old. Recently, I found a photo of the two of us posing together as kids, too funny. (I suggested he post it online, he kinda chuckled and kept it moving. Funny moment. –Eddie) What’s crazy is that now our sons are the same age like we were, and there’s a photo of them together that we have now. Ron’s a good dude, regardless of what folks think of his past. That’s the reason why I fought to get him on the Lakers, and its been beautiful ever since.
SLAM: So with the rings, the miles on the legs, and everything else…How many more years do you think you have?
LO: Ideally, I’d like to play until I’m 37 or 38. I’m fortunate to play on a team who invests in their players and puts the team in a position to win every year. As long as things stay in that direction, I’d like to retire as a Laker.
SLAM: What’s next on the docket today?
LO: Practice, these young boys are gonna kill me. [Laughs]
Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.