It is no secret that Lamar Odom’s one-year tenure with the Dallas Mavericks was an unhappy one for the player. Some explosive new claims, however, make it sound even worse than previously thought.
In his recently released autobiography Darkness to Light: A Memoir, Odom claimed that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban kicked Odom and berated him in front of his teammates as he struggled to adapt in Dallas.
Odom recalls one instance where, during a particularly bad game, he went to sit on the end of the bench after being substituted. Odom said Cuban kicked him in the shins, and credited teammate Vince Carter with grabbing his arm before he could physically retaliate — an act that Odom says saved his career.
“During one homestand, I was having possibly the worst game of the season,” Odom wrote, via Joey Hayden of the Dallas Morning News. “Head coach Rick Carlisle subbed me out, and I looked for a seat near the coaches, but none were available. So I went down to the only open seat at the end of the bench. Right next to Cuban.
“Cuban extended his right foot and kicked my shin. … I was stunned. This wasn’t a tap. I felt it. That was the last straw. It was painfully clear he did not respect me as a man. I felt the adrenaline rush through my body. In an instant I was transported back to Linden Boulevard, where the slightest act of disrespect could be fatal. As I sprang up, Vince Carter, who was sitting next to me, grabbed my arm tightly and leaned in.”
Odom said he finally broke on Apr. 7, 2012, when Cuban entered the locker room after Odom played just four first half minutes and challenged the player by asking if he was in or out.
“I didn’t take kindly to it,” Odom wrote. “Once again, he didn’t treat me like a man. That’s not how you handle something in front of the entire team. Man, it was heated. I had fantasies about decking him, but that wasn’t the way out. I never played another game for the Mavs.”
The story about the halftime confrontation actually checks out. The incident was widely reported at the time, and while the motivations described are Odom’s own interpretation, the details largely match up.
Odom admitted that he was not in a good place mentally when he arrived in Dallas, and the negative emotions did follow him all season. At the time, he even said that he had considered taking the season off after dealing with some tragic events that took place during the 2011 offseason. That said, he also took some blame for how things went downhill in Dallas — though he hinted that Cuban should have as well. It’s no secret that the Mavericks owner can get heated during games, and the kicking story in particular reflects poorly on him.