For the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday brought together more intriguing subplots than an entire season of your average telenovela. Following D’Angelo Russell’s and Nick Young’s separate sessions with reporters, Kobe Bryant squared off against Dwyane Wade — with Lamar Odom in attendance.
The lurid episode in which Russell secretly filmed Young — who is engaged to pop star Iggy Azalea — talking about other women, which then caused Russell to be ostracized by his teammates, pulled off the nearly impossible feat of relegating Bryant to No. 2 status in terms of Lakers-related talking points. Bryant, of course, is playing the final few games of his storied NBA career, and on Wednesday, he faced for the last time one of the few shooting guards who can hold a candle to his own accomplishments.
Meanwhile, Odom, who helped Bryant win two of his five NBA championships, attended his first Lakers game since suffering a near-fatal stroke last year at a Nevada brothel. The retired forward, who is estranged from his reality-TV superstar wife Khloe Kardashian, was reportedly given tickets to the game by Bryant himself.
The 36-year-old Odom also played one season with Wade in Miami before being traded to the Lakers in the 2004 deal that sent Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. That deal was the result of a long-running feud between O’Neal and Bryant, one that ultimately forced the Lakers, despite the pair having won three titles together, to choose the younger guard over the hulking center.
Got all that? Anyway, back to Wednesday, where the 6-foot-10 Odom, who last played in the NBA in 2013, was hard to miss in the crowd at Staples Center.
Odom had reportedly been fighting for his life in the immediate days after his October collapse, which appeared to have resulted from a drug overdose. After emerging from a coma, he required weeks of physical therapy and made his first major public appearance in February, at a fashion show hosted by Kardashian’s brother-in-law, Kanye West.
At the game, Odom shared a hug with Lakers president Jeanie Buss. He told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he was “feeling good.”
Odom may be doing better, but his former squad in Los Angeles, which entered the game against Miami in last place in the Western Conference at 15-59, is on the way to its worst season in franchise history. Now the team is dealing with its greatest turmoil since the Bryant-O’Neal feud, but Lakers fans, used to almost nothing but success, at least can’t complain about that things aren’t interesting.