Lamar Odom continues to progress as he recovers from his hospitalization after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel. Odom was transported from Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday night, and is undergoing therapy.
On Thursday, Alvina Alston, publicist for Odom's aunt JaNean Mercer, released a statement that the former basketball star "is beginning to gradually flourish both mentally and physically." The encouraging news for Odom comes after reports he had a 50/50 chance for survival.
Before his hospitalization, Odom, who had 23 appearances on E! reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" was looking to revive his basketball career.
Odom had began his pro career in 1999 and last played in the NBA in 2013. He had been attempting to make a comeback and trimmed down 35 pounds, according to his trainer Fareed Samad in an on-camera interview with TMZ.
"We talked to the Knicks about him going back to the NBA," Samad told TMZ.
Many NBA veterans have attempted to return to the league, but it would have been a particularly difficult battle for Odom. At age 35, Odom would have needed to prove his skills had not significantly diminished. Considering Odom's last games on the court, few teams were expected to take a chance on him.
Odom played his final season in 2012-2013 with Los Angeles Clippers, the team that drafted him in 1999. But he averaged just 4.0 points per game, and only 19.7 minutes over 82 games. He made his last NBA appearance on May 3, 2013, when he started in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
In 2012, the Dallas Mavericks had even assigned Odom to play in the D-League. His stint with Spanish club Laboral Kutxa Baskonia in 2014 lasted just two games due to a back injury.
It was a far cry from Odom's prime, when he was one of the most versatile players in the league. Gifted with expectional dribbling and passing skills for a player his size, Odom was an exciting player and a difficult one to guard. In his second season with the Clippers, Odom averaged 17.2 points per game while shooting 46 percent from the field. He also contributed 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
But numbers rarely did Odom justice. In 2003-2004, his only season with the Miami Heat, Odom helped carry the load as the Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with rookie Dwyane Wade, and an aging Eddie Jones.
Odom would be sent to the Los Angeles Lakers the following season as part of the blockbuster Shaquille O'Neal trade. Laker fans, who were aware of Odom's talents as a member of the Clippers, were left frustrated as he and the newcomers failed to make up for the loss of their superstar center.
He took a secondary role to Kobe Bryant with the Lakers, but the Lakers languished. After repeated failures to advance past the first round of the Western Conference, Odom found himself the subject of trade speculation. Rumors of a deal failed to materialize, and when the Lakers acquired power forward Pau Gasol in 2008, the Lakers were not only out of their doldrums but on their way to multiple appearances in the NBA finals. Odom would take a backseat to both Bryant and Gasol, and he thrived in his new role as the No. 3 and sometimes No. 4 scoring option. He raised his field-goal percentage and became a more active rebounder.
While Odom wasn’t the offensive star that Bryant or Gasol were, he provided the Lakers with many intangibles that were needed on a team that often lacked a spark on both sides of the court. He often got key rebounds and was a difficult player to shoot over with his long arms and leaping ability. The feather in Odom’s cap would be winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award for the 2010-2011 season, given to the top bench player in the league. It was the first time a Laker had ever achieved the honor.
An affable person with a huge smile, Odom was well-liked by his peers. Longtime Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plashke described himself "as one of the many media members who fell in love with Odom's sweet soul."
"He was an amazing teammate," current Knicks coach and former teammate Derek Fisher said. "Really an amazing player that possesses all the skills necessary to do everything on the floor you need done. I think his defense and rebounding was more spectacular than anything he can do on the floor offensively. (He was) one of the top reasons as to why we won championships in '09 and '10."