Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 4/12/12
One of the biggest scams in the history of DFW sports has come to a close. Lamar Odom played the Dallas Mavericks in every conceivable manner, with considerable help from owner Mark Cuban. Yes, it was Cuban who finally banished Odom from the team Monday after the two had a confrontation at halftime of a game in Memphis. But it's not like Odom's uninspired play was a new development. After he was sent packing (with pay), reports surfaced that he was habitually late for team activities and displayed a general attitude of insolence around his teammates. Outside of one memorable quote, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was forced to repeatedly attempt to make this situation work. We don't know what went on behind closed doors, but it appeared Carlisle was powerless to discipline Odom for his weaksauce approach. And now that he's gone, even some of his friends in the business seem disgusted by his actions. "I always pull for the players, but the fact that they've got to pay him, I think is a joke," Charles Barkley told us Wednesday on 103.3 FM. "I mean, because he didn't earn his salary. He didn't earn it at all. "I like Lamar as a person, but I'm disappointed about everything that happened in Dallas. And it's a shame that the Mavs got to pay him, to be honest with you, because he doesn't deserve to get paid for what he put out there this year. He doesn't deserve it, plain and simple." But in an odd way, has the embarrassing Odom affair offered Cuban some cover for blowing up a championship team? If not for this sideshow that includes the ubiquitous Kardashian family, maybe more folks would be attributing the Mavs' struggles this season to the losses of Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson. No matter how he tries to explain it now, Cuban made those decisions on the premise the Mavs would have a shot at Dwight Howard or Deron Williams in free agency. Now that Howard has opted in for next season with the Orlando Magic and generally made a fool of himself, he's not really a viable option. The Mavs have a much better shot at landing Williams in free agency this summer, but it's not like that would immediately make them title contenders. The Florida Marlins (now Miami) used to have the market cornered on blowing up championship teams, but the Mavs joined the party this past offseason. You hear folks say the Mavs simply caught lightning in a bottle last season and wouldn't have been able to "repeat" with the same cast of characters. But it would've been fun to see them try. To be fair, we all applauded the trade for Odom last December. It felt like highway robbery to land the reigning Sixth Man of the Year for virtually nothing. It eased the pain of losing such valuable players from the championship team. Unfortunately, Odom had no interest in playing basketball. A lot of folks gave him the benefit of the doubt because he dealt with tragedy last offseason, but eventually the Mavs' patience wore thin. Though most of them are now in hiding, apologists for Odom pointed out the Mavs were 0-7 when he didn't play. It was one of the most hollow stats ever presented because he contributed to plenty of losses when he actually took the floor. If the Mavs hold onto a playoff spot and get bounced in the first round by the Thunder or Spurs, it's likely some folks will say that Odom undermined the season. But anyone who makes that argument will be giving him too much credit. Surely players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry were mentally tough enough not to be affected by Odom's negative energy. And it's not like he was some sort of divisive force in the locker room like we saw with former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was actually productive on the field. No one really took Odom's lead because he didn't offer anything in the way of leadership. The Mavs simply tried to ride out his season of apathy in hopes that he'd eventually regain an interest in his profession. But it turns out Odom was shameless. He was content to pout and show up late to work while his new teammates tried to keep their heads above water. His departure should've happened a month ago, but at least he's finally gone. Carlisle prides himself on not allowing any drama in the locker room. But the Odom situation was always out of his hands. Now that he has command of the room again, let's see if the Mavs have another run in them. And if you're skeptical of that, know that you're not alone.
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