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SI FOR KIDS
Something to prove
Unstoppable ... unpredictable, Clippers' Odom has it all
Posted: Monday July 05, 1999 09:57 PM
LOS ANGELES (CNN/SI) -- Lamar Odom's list of attributes reads like a best seller.
At 6-10, he's got the size to go inside. He has fabulous touch from the perimeter. He blocks shots. Crashes the boards.
Longtime Temple coach John Chaney said he's never seen a player who was harder to defend. And while Odom's completely unselfish, he wants the ball with the game on the line.
"There were many NBA scouts in Rhode Island for his first game and after the game we all went out, had an O'Douls and sat down around a table," said Jeff Weltman, director of scouting for the Los Angeles Clippers. "One guys sits down and -- this is November -- he says, 'Whose going No. 2?
"That's how impressive he was."
How then did Lamar Odom slide to the Clippers with the fourth selection in Wednesday's NBA Draft?
It's because of the negative side of his ledger.
Odom went to three high schools. UNLV released him from a letter of intent because a discrepancy over test scores. He moved on to Rhode Island, actually entered the NBA Draft twice and tried to return to school both times.
He hired an agent, parted ways with him and then blew off scheduled workouts with several NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls, who had the No. 1 pick
The Bulls didn't get the chance to talk with Odom until the eve of the draft. Coach Tim Floyd even had chartered a plane to meet Odom in Rhode Island -- only to get stood up when he got there.
"He's a guy who is very talented," said Floyd, whose Bulls opted for Duke's Elton Brand instead of Odom. "We were pleasantly surprised when we interviewed him as well. It was not a case of not liking Lamar Odom, but he did confuse us initially."
Odom, though, says he was just as confused himself.
"I just needed to step back and clear my head," said Odom, whose mother died when he was 12. "You know, I'm only 19 and a lot was happening real fast -- people coming from everywhere at you."
Still, Odom's pattern of immaturity, indecisiveness and irresponsibility sent up red flags to the teams picking high in the draft.
The Clippers spent as much time looking into Odom's off-court past as they did his on-court performance They concluded the potential rewards outweighed the risks.
"He's made mistakes, but there's not been anything, there's not been any serious troubles," Clippers coach Chris Ford said. "We're talking about maybe being late or something like that, changing minds or changing schools. But there's nothing in the kid's past that would say he's really an untouchable. He just needs a little bit of guidance and hopefully we can make sure that he gets that."
After months of indecision, Odom is convinced he's landed in the right place.
And how does he convince others that he belongs in the NBA?
"Just by being the best player I can be," Odom said. "All said aside, it's when one performs on the court -- and I think I've proved that. It's always negative when I'm not playing.
"But as soon as I step on the court and talk to the media, I get my point across. [Then when] people get to know me and people get a good feel for me, I think I really handle myself well and I come across really well."
The Clippers certainly hope so. Odom will now try to be a star and help turn around the worst franchise in NBA history.
And perhaps more importantly, he will attempt to become a man who finally makes a commitment -- and honors it.
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