What happened to Lamar Odom? The Kardashians happened and started his downfall, writes one top sports columnist who knew and admired Odom in his playing days — and who spent the past week struggling with how a once-celebrated pro basketball star ended up in a coma after a four-day drugs-and-prostitutes binge in a Nevada brothel.
“As one of the many media members who fell in love with Odom’s sweet soul during his 12 seasons as a pro baller in Los Angeles, I watched in sadness last week as he fought for his life,” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist and ESPN TV personality Bill Plaschke on Wednesday.
According to Plaschke, the already-fragile but talented and good-hearted Odom began his decline in earnest when he became involved with the Kardashians, marrying Khloe Kardashian after just one month of dating in 2009, and quickly joined their reality TV “family,” complete with his own show, Khloe & Lamar — a show on which, the longtime journalist says, the Kardashians “emasculated” Odom, presenting an entirely different person than the Lamar Odom known and beloved by other athletes, fans and the sports media — the Lamar Odom who won the NBA’s coveted Sixth Man Award in 2011.
Plaschke recalled Odom accepting the award in a press conference at a hotel ballroom, around the same time that Khloe and Lamar began airing.
“In the ballroom, he was cheered by loyal Lakers teammates, yet on television he was scolded by Khloe for being too loyal to his best friend,” Plaschke wrote. “In the ballroom, he spoke passionately about the selflessness required in being a sixth man, yet on television his brother-in-law was ridiculing him for not making the All-Star team. The Lamar Odom that everyone loved was not the Lamar Odom that the Kardashians were attempting to create.”
According to a New York Post article last week, the Kardashians’ heartless manipulation of Odom continued even up to the days before his near-tragic crisis last week, refusing to honor his request not to be included as a storyline on the latest season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, even though Odom and Khloe Kardashian filed for divorce two years ago, because he was desperately upset with how he was portrayed.
“Y’all beat me down, degraded me, said I would do everything in the world. I’m a womanizer, a f*****g drug addict, everything. I probably couldn’t even get f*****g hired at Home Depot right now because of how people look at me,” he complained.
In August, Khloe Kardashian told Odom that she would be at a Beverly Hills health club early in the morning. But when he showed up, he was ambushed by paparazzi and accused by the Kardashians of stalking, the Post recounted.
Yet now, Khloe Kardashian, because she remains legally married to Odom, continues to be responsible for his medical decisions and treatment.
“The Kardashians came across as Odom’s intensive-care advocates when, in fact, his appearance in their warped TV world was part of the self-destructive slide that led him there,” Plaschke wrote.
On Friday, Khloe Kardsahian ordered Odom, who is reportedly still unable to walk, transported to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from the Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas where he was undergoing treatment.
When the Khloe and Lamar show premiered, Plaschke noted, Odom’s performance on the court went into sharp and immediate decline.
When he asked Khloe Kardashian directly about her “motives” for involving Odom in the Kardashians’ reality-TV storylines, she responded only, “The show has been therapy for Lamar. It’s been a real release,” leaving the respected L.A. Times columnist baffled.
But when he wrote an article openly questioning what happened with the Kardashians’ and Lamar Odom as a result of the show, the Lakers star took him aside privately, saying that he understood why Plaschke didn’t like the show, but asking the writer to avoid criticizing Khloe, telling Plaschke, “When you’re taking personal shots at Khloe, just remember, that’s my wife. That’s the woman I love.”
[Featured Photo by Jeff Gross / Getty Images]