Two guys, two trades, one reaction.
Lamar Odom you’ve heard of, married to a Kardashian (allegedly), played for the Lakers, has a reality show; Jeff Carter you probably haven’t. Carter’s a hockey player who’s played for Phildelphia, Columbus, and Los Angeles (while you’re reading ponder the mascots for those three teams, work it through and better yourself). Jeff and Lamar were both traded prior to this season. Each went from a team he really liked to a new location and each has handled it poorly. So let’s examine what happens when millionaire athletes are forced to pack up and head out of town and most importantly let’s examine two examples of how not to do it.
Phase One: Are you breaking up with me?
Lamar was one happy Los Angelino. He married into SoCal royalty, was playing for one of the most storied franchises in NBA history. He’d spent his career playing for the Lakers, Clippers, and Heat. His entire life in the NBA he’d been in either LA or Miami, close to water, sun, and nightlife. Then out of the blue the Lakers tried to trade Lamar to New Orleans. The league poo pooed the deal, the damage was done. Lamar was upset because the Lakers didn’t love him like they used to. Feelings were hurt, TMZ was alerted and Lamar went into a sulk. He didn’t want to be somewhere he wasn’t “wanted” so the Lakers got back on the phone and shipped him off to Dallas.
Jeff Carter according to reports like to party. He and his bromance partner Mike Richards were photographed at various Philly nightspots and frat parties mixing and mingling with coeds. Carter was drafted by Philadelphia and had led them to a Stanley Cup Final. He’s big, fast, skilled, and scores goals. All those traits oddly translate into NHL stardom. One problem, Jeff’s partying and alleged indiscretions with a teammates wife had started to bother the brass in Philly. In hockey wearing the Captain’s “C” is a big deal, so is wearing the alternate captain’s “A”. In the course of a season Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had their captains designations removed. Clearly folks in Philly didn’t like the direction the two were heading. Jeff woke up last summer and found himself traded to Columbus of all places. Jeff struggled with the trade as well, going into a self-imposed communication blackout.
Phase Two: I’m seeing other people.
Lamar arrived in Dallas just as everyone else was leaving. Dallas let championship contributors J.J. Barrea and Tyson Chandler walk in the offseason and one would suspect the Mavs were hoping Lamar could fill some of the vacated roles. Initially Lamar put on a brave face, he was excited about the move…right…sure. The Kardashian circus would relocate its big top to the Metroplex. The Mavs acquired a championship caliber player for next to nothing. Lamar was saying all the right things. We know now based on his reality show that I don’t watch for the record only skim from time to time, that Lamar was pretty sad about the move. We also know that Lamar likes candy and is emotionally attached to Rob Kardashian. Lamar, stop doing the reality show.
Jeff fained initial excitement as well. See in Columbus he would be paired with superstar Rick Nash to form a lethal line of goal scoring prowess. He had matured from his days in Philly. That’s what everyone thought. And besides, those were all just vicious rumors in Philly circulated by a gotcha media horde and jealous teammates. Right? Totally. Columbus traded for a top line center who just needed a change of scenery. When you need a change of scenery you head to central Ohio. Everyone knows that.
Phase Three: Please take me back.
Lamar is apparently still California dreaming because he’s been a bust in Dallas. His scoring is half his career average. Actually in almost every statistical category Lamar has been half the man he used to be. In some areas he’s been non-existent. This includes career lows in free throw and field goal percentages. He’s currently on personal leave to attend to his ailing father. His ailing father has said publically that he’s not ailing that much. Either way, Lamar really just made his leave of absence official. He’s been M.I.A. (Missing in Action, not the rapper prone to obscene finger gestures) since he relocated to the 214.
Jeff has also left something to desire with his play. While in Columbus he was on track to have his worse offensive season in some time. He was also -11 in plus/minus so far this season. That means that when Carter was on the ice his line has been outscored by 11 goals over the course of this season. For some perspective, last season Carter was +27. Now no one will argue that Columbus is anywhere near the same team that Philly was or is but Carter, in his prime, is having the worst season of his career. Worse still it had become clear to the organization and to teammates that Carter was a bad influence. As one teammate noted, “from day one” there was a feeling that Carter was trouble.
Phase IV: Starting over again…again.
Lamar Odom may have been a short-term fix for the Mavs, a move made in part to help clear space for next summer’s free agent bonanza, but he is the reigning 6th Man of the Year and was expected to contribute something to the defending champs. Lamar isn’t in the running for 10th Man of the Year, though he is arguably a shoe in for 11th Man of the Year. Odom was recently rumored to be asking for a trade to a different local or his outright release so he could sign with another team. Why not, he’s earned it. The Mavs would be happy to help out a guy who’s done so much for their season. Right? See there that was sarcasm.
Carter has gone a step further. He was traded last week to the LA Kings. Los Angeles: sunny beaches, attractive women, nightlife, epicenter of the Kardashian universe. He’ll be reunited with his buddy Mike Richards who also got shipped out of Philly last offseason. Just like old times, Mike and Jeff running rough shod over the UCLA tri-delts. Kings PR put out a wonderful article about the “two Canadian boys” chasing after a cup together. The Kings dismiss any idea that Carter might be a bad apple and quickly dismiss anything regarding his days in Philly or his play in Columbus. LA is happy to have him. Good for Jeff, because at this rate he’s running out of scene changes.
Phase V: Get me off of this thing called love.
So what did we learn from Lamar and Jeff? Not much because this is sports and normal rules don’t apply. Say I went to work for UPS driving a truck and I was darn good at it. Then suddenly they changed my route. Instead of make sure making sure brown was doing what it need to for you I got sour and sad. I wasn’t as efficient a driver, my drop-offs went way down and eventually I quit showing up for work. UPS would confiscate my brown shorts and hat and tell me to hit the bricks. Now in the world of professional sports the uniquely gifted are given time and changes of scenery because there aren’t 50 guys in the world who can do what either Lamar or Jeff do on their respective playing surfaces. An owner or GM somewhere will overlook this last year, chalk it up to wrong place, wrong time and shovel money into their pockets.
Next year some poor slub who was born gifted and tall, athletic and skilled will do exactly what Lamar and Jeff have done, get paid millions to be several rungs below average because they have an issue with geography. All the while showing how fragile the sports psyche actually is.