Here are some lengthy comments from Lamar Odom about Kobe Bryant, his own health and why he thinks the Lakers are championship contenders this season…
(Q: With Kobe’s comments, did any of that bother you or hurt you or irritate you?)
No. You know, I get more bothered if I hear my name come up in things. I didn’t want to see him go anywhere. I love playing with him.
(Q: Your name has come up quite a bit…)
I can play. I mean, it bothers me a little bit sometimes. This is where I want to play basketball and end my career. Who knows how long that will be, but this is where I want to end my career at. This is where I want to try to win a championship, so I’m happy to be here today.
(Q: Does it ever get old hearing the rumors? Does it ever start to bug you mentally?)
A lot of times it’s taken as a compliment.
(Q: What about this time?)
I kind of understood it. I understood why. We have to win here. The first round isn’t good enough. This organization is used to playing for, if not winning, championships. So of course, losing two years in a row in the first round, losing (after being up) 3-1 and then getting smacked last year by the same team, I can understand that.
(Q: How do you feel physically?)
I feel good. I’ve still got a little ways to go. It will take some time. This was the second time I hurt the same shoulder, so hopefully it will be the last time. I’m just going to build myself back up, get out there on the 30th, do what I always do, give it my all and try to play my all-around game. Nothing will change. Hopefully I can do a little bit better this year and make this team better. If not, then I wouldn’t be surprised if things happen.
(Q: Do you anticipate being on the court before Oct. 30?)
I hope I can. It depends on how my shoulder feels, of course. I’m not going to rush it. If it took until January, which it won’t, then it would just have to take until January. But I’m not going to rush it, because I need my left hand. If I don’t have my left hand, I’m not going to be able to play.
(Q: Are you confident that you’ll be ready to start the season?)
(Q: If this team does stay healthy, how good do you think you can be?)
We were 23-10 before I got hurt. We lost our starting center, then we lost our backup center, in Kwame, for a little while. Andrew looks like he’s in great shape. Of course we lost Vlade and we started without Kobe, and then we lost Luke. So I basically went through the whole team. If we can stay healthy, with the best player in the league, if we can stay healthy there’s not a team we can’t beat or a series we can’t win. I’m looking forward to seeing us all at full strength.
(Q: So in your mind, you guys can be championship contenders?)
I mean, I think so. We’ve got a guy on our team who, on some nights, beats teams by himself. If we come with it, and we do all the small things that we need to do as a unit, and stay healthy… Sometimes you’ve got guys as big as Kwame, it’s not because he’s out of shape. Some injuries just happen. Same for Luke, same for myself. We were feeling great. It’s a part of the sporting world. No one wants or wishes to get hurt. Sometimes it just happens. Some more than others. Some guys never get hurt.
(Q: How do you turn around the defense? You guys struggled there last season.)
Yeah, but I think that was due to injuries. Like I said, we were 23-10 and we were defending the ball really well. You have to if you’re 23-10. When you lose guys, that hurts camaraderie and camaraderie is a big part of defense, especially on the court.
(Q: How do you think the chemistry is going to be? The best player on the team said he wanted out. Do you think there will be a chemistry problem?)
No, because being a Laker, you’re on center stage, front court. And I think everyone here knows the importance of going out and giving maximum effort to try to win games.
(Q: So no chemistry problems? You don’t foresee any problems?)
I don’t think so. If there was, I would lie to you. But I don’t think so.
(Q: You scored a lot in the playoffs and in the exit interviews there was talk of you doing more of that. Is there going to be an emphasis on that?)
I mean, people have been teling me, `Shoot it, shoot it, shoot it’ since I was like 10 years old, 11 years old. But I can’t help but to give maximum effort in defending and rebounding the ball and bringing my teammates along with me. I kind of understood that at an early age, that if I could get five or six guys to play with me, and not shoot all the time, that it’s easier. But Kobe has told me that and PJ has told me that, that they want me to be a little bit selfish with the basketball and score it a little bit more. I will try to focus on that.
(Q: Is it good to get back in the mix? Did the offseason just seem like it lasted forever?)
Time off is exactly what it is to me. It’s time off.
(Q: You enjoyed taking the time off?)
Yeah, I love it. When I step away from the game, I like to step away from the game and the papers and everything that’s going on. No offense to any of you. I tend to pay more attention to baseball. I’m kind of mad that my Mets let one go, but the Yankees are still there. I’m from New York. I can’t help it.
(Q: The Kobe situation, is that something that’s going to have to be addressed as a team?)
No. We all have jobs to do at the end of the day. Those guys in our locker room, we’re young but I think we’re a professional group of guys, at least trying to be and working toward that. So I don’t think so.
(Q: How is the recovery going?)
It’s going to take time. This is the second time I’ve had surgery on the same shoulder, so I’m just going to take my time and come back when I’m ready.
(Q: How long have you been able to shoot the ball and do stuff with it?)
A couple of weeks. There’s only so much I can do but I have to be patient.
(Q: You were mentioned in a lot of trade rumors. Do you just block it out?)
It happens, but I can play. Sometimes you take it as a compliment, but this is where I would like to play basketball for the rest of my career, so hopefully I can just go out there and perform at a high level and that will happen.