Van Gundy: Odom ‘doesn’t deserve this’

CHICAGO – Add Stan Van Gundy to the long list of NBA players, coaches and front-office personnel shaken by the news of Lamar Odom‘s fight for life in a Las Vegas hospital. Van Gundy coached Odom when both were with the Miami Heat in 2003-04.

It was Van Gundy’s first season as an NBA head coach and Odom made an indelible impression on him, both as his best player (17.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 4.1 apg) and as a person.

“All of us who had the privilege of working with Lamar, we’re all in the same place right now,” Van Gundy told reporters Wednesday, before his Detroit Pistons’ preseason game against the Bulls at United Center. “I’m reading comments online. It’s occupying everybody’s mind right now. It’s hard to get away from thinking about it.

“He really was – I don’t mean was in the sense that he’s gone, I just mean as a player – one of my all-time favorites. I’ve said that numerous times. Not only a great player but a great teammate that everybody enjoyed being around.”

The two have maintained a relationship through the years, with Van Gundy well aware of the tragedies and harsh twists that have befallen Odom. Even his reality-TV marriage to Khloe Kardashian, something to ogle and discard for so many viewers, turned sad and heartbreaking, in the opinion of some who know Odom.

“I think we’ve all felt bad for everything that’s happened to him over the last three or four years,” Van Gundy said. “Now this is the worst. It’s just really rough thinking about it. The guy’s had such … a hard life in a lot of ways and still was such a positive person. He just doesn’t deserve this. He really doesn’t. And it’s really, really sad. Tough to deal with.”

Chicago forward Pau Gasol teamed with Odom on the Lakers for three-plus seasons (2008-2011), reaching the Finals three times and winning two NBA championships together. Gasol said after Wednesday’s game that he hadn’t been able to keep in touch with Odom in recent years, but the moments they shared while in Los Angeles made this a difficult day.

“We had a very special bond,” Gasol said. “We played off each other a lot. We finished most games or all games together. … It was really fun to play and we had an incredible respect for each other. We just played so well together. It’s hard.

“It’s an emotional day for me. Just trying to keep it together. Hopefully he’ll come back and recover well. … It’s just really, really sad that a person with that type of a heart and talent has gone through so much. It breaks my heart.”

5 Comments

  1. blimey says:

    you are cursed if you go with any of the “Kardashian”.. “Kardashian’s” are the devil. =)

  2. Sandy says:

    It is realy sad but if he was at his breaking point he should of gotten help especially if he knew the drugs would make him weak he is a great basket ball player now look where he is at near death in a hospital i hope he does make a good recovery he just wont be the same i am praying for a good recovery and praying for his family i feel bad for his kids hes got koby and other friends he could of talked to i understand where he came from i lost 13 peope in 3 years it didnt cause me to turn to drugs anyway just hope he pulls thru

  3. Isaac says:

    The real sad news is that Lamar doesn’t have any true friends. He has ex-coaches and team mates who like him and care about him, but no one really cared enough to get personal and get tough with him. It’s obvious he went through trouble but thats when a friend is needed to slap you out of it, get you back on your feet with a firm voice. I hope his true friends will emerge and stop treating him like a victim and feeling sorry for him. Remind him he’s one of the best to ever play this game, and he still has alot to contribute, either as a player or coach in the future. Get out of the West Coast, Get out of the US for awhile, travel to Africa, change your perspective on things. Meet people from the third world who are happy without being wealthy. Then come back and start again. Best of Luck to Lamar.

  4. harriethehawk says:

    This is very sad news. It sounds like he hit rock bottom. I hope he pulls through and gets his life together. I always wondered why he didn’t play overseas over these past few years, just to get away from the Kardashians at the minimum. Best wishes.

    • Josh L says:

      He never was the same after the Lakers traded him. Just flat out depressed. He has had a drug problem before joining the league. After he pulls through this, he can get the help he needs and put drug use behind him for good.