Lamar Odom won his only two NBA Championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant. That means Odom will forever be partial to the Black Mamba on who’s the most competitive player he’s played with. However, Odom also got a chance to play with another great player. According to him, this guard ranks second behind Kobe in terms of ferociousness and pure competitiveness.
No one was close
Before he was traded to the Lakers in 2004, Odom spent one year in Miami, where he was mentored under Pat Riley’s strict regime. According to him, the rigor in South Beach prepared him for Kobe’s intensity. A few years later, Odom met a player that came close to the Black Mamba’s will to win.
“No one was close to Kobe for me, his competitive spirit. I mean, D-Wade and Chris Paul … Chris Paul is second with his competitive drive, but Kobe Bryant, man, in the morning, man. He taught me to really finish off. To finish. Finish everything. I already had the Heat mantra instilled in me, lifting weights every day, which I started that season in Miami. I was cool with that, being around Kobe. You want to be strong, defend your spot and your territory when you play with Kobe,” Odom told The Vertical, per Yahoo Sports.
This may be the unknown chapter of Odom’s career. After he was traded to the Mavericks, he faded from the limelight. But in reality, after his stint with the Mavs, he went back to the Clippers — the team that drafted him — for the 2012-13 season, where he played 82 games. Note that this was peak Lob City. The Clippers were a legitimate playoff contender then. Odom got a first-person view of what made Chris Paul special.
Odom dropped those comments in 2017, around the time when whispers circulated that Paul may be on the tail end of his career. After all, amid great regular seasons with the Clippers, Paul failed to lead the team to a title, let alone a decent playoff run.
But look and behold, Paul made strides with the Houston Rockets. They were one win away from beating the powerhouse Golden State Warriors squad and making it to the NBA Finals. He led a group of young guns in Oklahoma City to a great playoff run. Now with the Phoenix Suns, he’s inching close to his first title.
And so Odom’s comments hold a lot of water. This wasn’t some attempt at boosting his stock. He really saw with his own eyes that Paul was just inches below Kobe in terms of competitive drive.