They both featured for Los Angeles Lakers in the past. New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher broke down after Wednesday’s practice session while addressing the the life and struggle of his former teammate Lamar Odom. Former Lakers’ star Odom reportedly is in a coma.
Fisher hailed Odom as “greatest man I have ever known” and an “amazing teammate.” Fisher also credited Odom as a key-man behind Lakers’ success in 2009 and 2010 NBA championship. Odom was found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult news to hear,’’ Fisher said. “Obviously very personal to me. I think that oftentimes athletes, celebrities are judged by choices or decisions, and that’s not representative of who they are.
“Lamar Odom was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. That’s the way I see him. I don’t see him through the prism of choices he has made. I view him through the heart and soul of the person he really is. I’m obviously hoping he can pull through this, and in some fortunate way, this becomes the beginning of a different ending.’’
Apart from Fisher, the Knicks have more connections with the 35-year-old South Jamaican. Phil Jackson signed Odom on the final day of the regular season 2013-14 after taking charge at Knicks. Later Jackson released Odom when he failed to show up at the Tarrytown facility to work out.
Carmelo Anthony was downcast about the man’s condition, who featured for the Lakers during 2004-2011.
“It’s sad,” he said. “I’ve known him personally since high school. He’s a friend of mine. It’s a sad situation. To see where he was at as a player or person and see where he’s at right now, all you can do is pray for him and his family.”
Knicks shooting-guard Sasha Vujacic also had close ties with Odom while playing at Lakers.
“Lamar was always there, great in the locker room, great with the guys, and like I said when you are with someone for so long and you go through ups and downs, when you win together and lose together the bond becomes stronger. All we can do right now and all we can talk about is sending positive vibes towards him and pray,”
Fisher feels Odom’s life was derailed by drug addiction.