Exclusive: Lamar Odom talks joining BIG3, mental health, Kobe, LeBron, Lakers, and more
After lifting two championship trophies playing for the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant, life got complicated for Lamar Odom both on and off the floor. The talented and extremely versatile forward struggled in many aspects of his life dealing with the issues that come with being in front of a camera on a reality show to multiple tragedies, an NBA career that went into an unexpected direction and a life-threatening situation in Las Vegas.
Even with all that Odom has gone through throughout the course of his life and the drastic ups and downs over the past few years, he’s not ready to give up on the one thing that has driven him all along, basketball. The former Lakers great still has that fire inside to compete at a high level on the basketball court and he’ll be starting fresh like many of his peers and former teammates have done by playing in Ice Cube’s BIG3 League.
The 38-year-old spoke with ClutchPoints about his plan to return to the basketball court. Odom also talked about his intentions to help others deal with mental health and anxiety, his children’s ambitions, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, and if coaching is in his future.
Ryan Ward: Will you be joining the BIG3 League?
Lamar Odom: Yeah. I’m getting myself into game shape, which I’m not too far from it now. I’ll be playing. Hopefully, I’ll be playing. I also plan to play in the CBA in China in 2019.
What led you to the decision to join the BIG3?
LO: Just my love for basketball. I just want to compete again. NBA2K is not enough.
Do you have a specific goal in mind while you’re getting your basketball playing career back underway?
LO: Well, just to get in the best shape as possible. My body has been through a lot. Trying to get in the best shape I can get in.
Is an NBA comeback in your future?
LO: I guess it depends on how well I can perform in the BIG3 or at any level. I mean, if the right team and the opportunity presented itself. Why not?
Your son, Lamar Odom Jr, he’s an up-and-coming basketball player. Do you think the NBA is in his future?
LO: He has the gene pool. If he has the heart and desire to perfect his craft, I don’t see why not. Anything is possible.
Your daughter, Destiny, she also has a budding career as a model, right?
LO: Yeah. A couple of agencies are interested in her. I’m trying to get that popping and off the ground. Just trying to be here to help her make the right decisions along the way.
Is that an exciting process for you? Your kids are finally at the age where they’re both are getting into their own career paths?
LO: Yeah, even though with my career I missed so much time with them. So being able to reconnect and watch their careers take off makes me feel good.
On the mental health and anxiety aspect of things, how you are dealing with your issues at this point? What do you plan to do moving forward?
LO: So many people in America suffer from anxiety, and I know for myself anxiety for me led to a lot of bad decision making. And so, if we can help. Why not?
Odom’s Manager, Zoul: Lamar is currently thinking about becoming a mental health advocate to mainly address topics such as anxiety and depression. He is severely asked by companies and non-profit organizations to become a speaker on anxiety. In the process of helping himself, he wants to inspire others in the future to help themselves as well and seek treatment. Anxiety Is a serious disease that leads to addiction and other problems such as depression and even suicide. I think with all that Lamar has been through, he will inspire a lot of people to overcome anxiety, addiction, and depression. I always say, God kept him alive for a reason and I think it’s to help other people.
With all that you’ve been through in your life, what knowledge do you want to share with others?
LO: Well, to teach them about anxiety and to teach them that anxiety can lead them to addiction like in my case because addiction is very prevalent in America.
What do you think of LeBron James joining the Lakers?
LO: I think it’s big. It almost takes us right back to the top. At least it takes us right back to competing for a championship.
Do you think LeBron is the G.O.A.T?
LO: That’s too hard to say because I think each generation has a share of great players. I think it’s too hard to call out who’s the best player of all time. It depends on the era you came from really.
Have you been watching the Lakers this season? Do you believe they will end their playoff drought this season?
LO: I’ve been watching them. I think they will, but I don’t really think they understand how hard it is going to be because they have LeBron James.
A lot of people think it is going to be easy, but it will be harder because teams will be gunning for them. Teams are going to be just excited as they would be if they are playing the Golden State Warriors when they play LeBron James, and in the arena, so I think it is going to be tough for them, but I think they’ll get there.
Is there a young player on the Lakers right now that has impressed you?
LO: Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. I love them both, and I think they’re going to have great careers.
Do you think Kobe Bryant try to join LeBron?
LO: I don’t think so. I think as fans that’s who we would all love to see, but I think Kobe is done with basketball. He’s got a lot of things off the court going on, so I think he’s secure with his Laker legacy.
What kind of impact has Kobe had on your life?
LO: A lot! Kobe is like a big brother to me. I learned everything about competing and the importance of winning from Kobe. The importance of success from Kobe. He means a lot to me. Hopefully, I get to work out with Kobe to get ready for the BIG3.
Kobe has been working out a lot of younger players and veterans that want to take their game to another level, so that’s something you’re going to look into?
LO: Oh hell yeah! Definitely. He can teach this old dog some new tricks.
Is coaching in some capacity in your future?
LO: I think I would love to coach. The thought ran across my mind to even go back to school to get my college degree to coach college ball. I would definitely love to coach at any level.
What do you think about your old teammate Luke Walton and the job he’s done so far coaching the Lakers?
LO: I think he’s done a good job for the talent that he’s had to work with. I think he’ll do a much better job this year. I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him. I can’t wait to see him win a championship with the Lakers.
Have you talked to Luke about joining his coaching staff?
LO: I have. It’ll happen. Maybe in a couple of years. It’ll definitely happen if I’m not playing.
Would you like a role in the Lakers organization at some point?
LO: Of course. I’m a Laker for life, bro. Of course, I would.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
LO: I’m a Laker for life. I want everybody to watch the King this year do his thing.