DUBAI - Lamar Odom may be almost a decade removed from his last appearance with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he still reserves a special place in his heart for the purple and gold.
The NBA veteran, who last played for the Lakers in 2011 in a fruitful seven-year stint crowned by a pair of championships, keeps tabs on his former team, knowing the Lakers are outside the playoff circle looking in these days.
As of Monday, Manila time, the Lakers are above .500 with a 27-26 record, but are just in 10th spot in the ultra-competitive Western conference.
But Odom believes his beloved team can revive its playoff push with the return of LeBron James from a groin injury.
“I’m pretty sure with LeBron getting back, they’ll get everything together and get ready for their playoff run,” the 39-year-old cager said in a chat on Sunday night in the bus while his current Mighty Sports team was on the way to Shabab Al Ahli Club for its third game in the Dubai International Championship.
Odom revealed James was his inspiration for making his own hoops comeback following a five-year layoff in a dark phase of his life after seeing LeBron play his best basketball last season in carrying a ragtag Cleveland Cavaliers bunch to the NBA Finals before bowing to Golden State and moving to LA.
“I didn’t think I was gonna play at 40,” the do-it-all cager and 2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year admitted. “But I saw LeBron at age 33.”
Odom also wants James to be surrounded with a quality supporting cast for the Lakers to relive the most recent glory days when he and Kobe Bryant teamed up.
And Odom welcomes the Lakers’ pursuit of Anthony Davis, who has requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans ahead of the trade deadline on Friday, Manila time.
“They probably need one more piece to go along with LeBron, and those young players they have now,” Odom said. “But hopefully they can keep the core of the young players and get a powerful player like Anthony Davis.”
But it’s one way or the other.
“Most likely they’ll have to give up some young, good pieces, but to get a player like Anthony Davis, that’s a decision that they’re going to have to make when it comes to that time,” Odom said after the Lakers reportedly offered a package that includes Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball.
If the Lakers acquire Davis to team-up with James, then Odom sees a bright future for them.
“That could potentially lead to a title - hopefully with one or two title defenses, but we got to see,” Odom said.
Regardless which generational superstar pairs up with LeBron, Odom insisted that his Lakers team is still better.
“Yeah,” he ended moments before alighting the bus.