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Lamar Odom Shines At FIBA World Championship

Miles Cooper |
September 15, 2010 | 1:30 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The select few who acknowledged that Sunday wasn't just the kick-off of the football season but also a day to celebrate the USA men’s basketball team’s victory against Turkey in Istanbul witnessed a great performance by not only the “hero” of the USA Team, Kevin Durant, but also his sidekick: the Lakers' own Lamar Odom.

When the final cuts were made for this summer’s edition of Team USA, Lamar was second on the depth chart behind the starting center: newly acquired Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. Soon after the first exhibition game, Odom replaced Chandler and held the starting spot for all but one game in the tournament.

Throughout the tournament Odom showed why he is still regarded as one of the premier 7-footers in the league. He utilized his versatility and length to average 4.2 points per game and 5.6 rebounds during the preliminary rounds. But when the elimination games began his output jumped to 10.8 points per game and 10.2 rebounds.

While many NBA players passed up the opportunity to play this summer, Odom jumped at the chance to seek redemption for his last performance, in the 2004 Olympics, when the U.S. team earned an embarrassing bronze medal. But Odom would not let that happen this time. With two NBA rings since those Olympics, Odom was able to provide the winning attitude this young team needed to earn a gold medal -- its first in 16 years at the FIBA World Championship.

Playing on Team USA with MVP candidate Kevin Durant and All-Stars such as Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups and Danny Granger must have felt familiar for Odom, who plays on a team with perennial MVP candidate Kobe Bryant and one of the best big men in the NBA in Pau Gasol during the season. 

With the tough competition Odom faced this summer, Laker fans should be expecting a huge year from him as L.A. attempts a three peat.

To reach writer Miles Cooper, click here.

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