Reality Fantasy Scorecard: Special Lamar Odom Psychoanalysis Edition!

Everyone is talking about Lamar Odom. Mark Cuban, the man who just released him from the Dallas Mavericks, said he was “negative energy.” Charles Barkley, unfiltered sayer of things on his mind, thinks that Odom receiving the money that he is contractually owed is “a joke.” And MediaTakeOut, the most tremendous/least reputable website on the planet, is saying that he got into a fistfight in the locker room with Dirk Nowitzki. Everyone is talking about Lamar Odom because he is a very curious case. How does one go from NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Lakers and “the most popular player in the locker room” to being traded and having his commitment questioned by his new team owner in the locker room? There is a lot of speculation about why he hasn’t performed well; some say the tragic events in his life affected his on-court performance, and others say he is depressed — and, my favorite, Cuban himself says that Lamar was distracted by his reality show.

To get to the bottom of this … oh, wait, I will never get to the bottom of this without real, like, reporting. Let me rephrase. To use this as an excuse to watch some trashy television, I decided to rewatch his reality show to try to make some sense out of why things broke so badly for The Candy Man in the Lone Star State. Scientific, I know.

Khloe and Lamar: Knowing What We Know Now

Brace yourselves, because this will come as a shock to you: When it comes to reality TV, I have standards. I can’t stand those Kardashian hussies, and every second I spend watching their shows I feel like a sucker enabling their hostile takeover of pop culture. But in the name of hard-core investigative journalism — and my love of and curiosity regarding all things Lamar Odom — I’ve decided to watch the episodes of Khloe and Lamar where he was traded to Dallas, select relevant quotes, and interpret them knowing what we know now. Here goes:

PRETRADE

    Khloe: “If you got traded, like, when would we know by?”
    Lamar: “Honestly, I have a really good agent, but you could wake up one morning and I could go to the gym like it is practice and they just be like, um, you go to your locker and your shit might not be there. That has happened to people before.”
    Khloe: “Is it embarrassing, though? Or no?”
    Lamar: “I think it is how, what, when, and where. It doesn’t always mean that you aren’t wanted.”

Knowing What We Know Now: The idea that Khloe asked if being traded is embarrassing is interesting. Do you ever consider a traded player to be a shamed player? The question indicates that Lamar may have been talking about being traded around the house like it was a slight of some kind. This sentiment is a theme as we move forward knowing what we know now.

LAMAR’S TRADE TO THE HORNETS FALLS APART

    Lamar: “Of course I don’t want play for a team that doesn’t want me … I don’t want to be on a team that just tried to trade you.”

Knowing What We Know Now: Again, Lamar is not taking a “business is business, they are just doing what is best for them” approach. He sees it as a disrespectful rejection, an attempt by the Lakers to rid themselves of him rather than improve the team. Whether that’s the truth doesn’t matter — and we will never know. All we know is that it’s how Lamar perceives it.

    Jamie (Lamar confidant): “This is typical Lamar behavior. I have seen him do this before where he kind of isolates himself from the rest of humanity.”

Knowing What We Know Now: Wait … what? When things go badly, Lamar typically isolates himself from the rest of humanity? I have never been in an NBA locker room, but when things are going poorly I imagine that communication, hard work, and a positive attitude are more effective than “isolation from the rest of humanity.” Just going out on a limb here. I may be wrong.

    Rob Kardashian (Khloe’s brother): “I think he is just hurt — he is probably just clearing his head. Probably at the loft or downtown or something. Maybe he is just driving around; he likes to drive around in his car and, like, be by himself and sing R&B songs.”

Knowing What We Know Now: BWAHAHHAAHHWAHWHAWHHWAHHAWAAAAAAAAAA! Drive around by himself and sing R&B songs? How fucking awesome is that? What are the chances that right now, as you read this, Lamar Odom is behind the wheel of an SUV cruising up PCH bumping Monica’s “One of Those Days” on 10 to clear his head? 90 percent? 95 percent? I almost wish something tragic would happen to me just so I could test this coping method.

    Lamar: “L.A. has been my home for years and there is no life like living the Laker life — but if it has to end, then it has to end and it will be time to move on.”

Knowing What We Know Now: What is the “Laker life”? The mere mention of the “Laker life” indicates that in Lamar’s mind the life that Lakers lead is unlike the life that any other NBA player leads. While Lamar is not entirely wrong, there is a subtextual sentiment that indicates being on any other team is a downgrade from the “Laker life.”

LAMAR IS TRADED TO THE DALLAS MAVERICKS

    Khloe [in Dallas]: “This is so fun … ”
    Lamar: “I gotta go move. I am bleeping lost here. I got really lost, that never happens to me. [Now in an interview.] Everything just hit me at once, you know, I am tired and I am a little bit out of shape physically and mentally. It is bothersome.”

Knowing What We Know Now: Out of shape mentally? What? It’s normal that a player coming off a lockout is out of shape physically … but mentally out of shape? What is he even getting at? Clearly there is a lot on Lamar’s mind as result of being on this new team, and it isn’t good. Knowing what we know now, this is the seed of unhappiness that later blossoms.

    Lamar: “This is the first time basketball has felt like a job, like, you know what I mean?”

Knowing What We Know Now: Uh-oh. When a 12-year NBA veteran says, “This is the first time that basketball has felt like a job,” do you expect him to have a career year? Has any athlete said, “Once I realized that it was only a job, that is when my career really took off?” No, no athlete has ever said that; matter of fact, they say the opposite of that before they have a career year. The seed of unhappiness is sprouting.

    Lamar: “It is the first game of the season and I feel anxiety to perform at a high level and do my job well.”

Knowing What We Know Now: I am not going to turn this quote into something that it is not. It would actually be stranger were he NOT to feel anxiety before his first game on a new team. However, it demonstrates that he does put pressure on himself, he does want to perform well, and this sets the table for his doubt and anxiety to spiral out of control should that not be the case. Spoiler alert: That was not the case.

    Lamar: “Sometimes you have to be rational.”
    Khloe: “It will take you a minute to get back into the flow of things, and once you body comes back this team will be unstoppable. That is what they are saying. You don’t feel it?”
    Lamar: “No.”
    Khloe: What do you think is different?”
    Lamar: “My body’s not responding.”
    Khloe: “What does that mean?”
    Lamar: “It’s not good.”

Knowing What We Know Now: Arriving home after the very first game, almost on the verge of tears, Lamar doubts his body and, ultimately, everything. This is a feeling that he never shook in Dallas, and this is the feeling that led Mark Cuban to question his commitment. The seed of doubt and unhappiness was planted and then it sprouted, and this is where it blossomed.

What Did We Learn From This Super-Scientific Experiment?

Let’s be honest, not much … but not nothing. Everything that we can infer about an NBA player’s ousting by a team’s upper management from watching a Ryan Seacrest–produced reality TV show needs to be taken with an ocean’s worth of salt. For all I know, he was reading off of cue cards the whole time and they shot this episode last week. That said, from watching these two episodes of a shitty reality show, there is a pretty clear timeline of his feelings about being traded from the Lakers knowing what we know now: He wanted to live the “Laker life”; he felt rejected, unwanted, and embarrassed when he was traded; he didn’t feel physically ready for the season; things didn’t go well; and he was dropped by his new team. We also learned that when things don’t go well he drives and listens to R&B. It is safe to say that, right now, he has Mary J. in heavy rotation.

GRTFL Reality Show Search:

My continued (and, frankly, heroic) exploration into the murky depths of reality television in search of programs worthy of inclusion in the GRTFL was unfruitful this week, but not uneventful. The results:

Jailhouse: Las Vegas:
Network: truTV
Premise: Watch Las Vegas’s drunk, crazy, drugged, and/or prostitutey go through booking.
My Take: When I was cruising through the ol’ “guide” function on the boob tube (why don’t we call it that more?) and came across the description for this show, I felt the same way that the veteran Bayou ’gators must feel when they come across a trap the Swamp People set for them. In other words, “proceed with caution; this is too good to be true.” In this case, instead of a raw chicken leg dangling above the swamp water, there was an episode description that read, “A scantily clad woman busted for using a fake ID; a meth-addicted prisoner breaks down; an intoxicated woman lands in isolation.” WHAT?!!? Scantily clad? Meth addicted? Intoxicated? I must be hallucinating. If you were to ask me what type of people I would want to watch on a reality show, those would be three of the top four answers. The fourth is “Bill Murray.” After reading that description, I had to give this one a whirl.

Well, have you ever woken up in a hotel room in Las Vegas and said to yourself, “Where am I? How did I get here? Where did all my money go? How did I manage to escape getting arrested?” Me neither. The folks on this show found themselves in a very similar situation except they didn’t escape getting arrested. They are in the first circle of the American justice system’s version of Dante’s hell … booking. The first thing I noticed about this program is that the main character we follow, Officer Nicole Sittre, is pretty damn foxy. Also filed under “foxy” is our first arrestee — who was busted for tampering with her government-issued ID in a bra and panties. When Sittre comments on her attire, she responds, “You should have seen the party I was at.” Indeed. The rest of the show basically boils down to, “Man, these folks are fucked up!” One particularly methy lady had this exchange with Sittre:

    Sittre: “You don’t handle alcohol very well.”
    Methy Lady: “You don’t handle life very well — do ya, bitch?”
    Sittre: “Are you yelling at me?”
    Methy Lady: “Yes.”
    Sittre: “Well I can’t talk to you if you yell at me.”
    Methy Lady: “Then don’t talk to me anymore. Keep me in here forever. EVER! EVER! EVER! Ya happy now?”
    Sittre: “No, not so much.”
    Methy Lady: “Keep me here forever! [Weird chimpanzee grunts.]”
    Sittre: “Good talk.”

So yeah, the formula is simple. Über-intoxicated person comes in, über-intoxicated person yells at foxy officer … rinse and repeat. This particular episode’s über-intoxicated law-breakers were the lady who said she hasn’t done drugs in two days and then said she has never done drugs in her life (not mutually exclusive, mind you); the dude who didn’t know how the empty cocaine bag fell into his pocket; the frat boy who kicked a cop in the groin; and the slammered fella who had to be restrained in “the chair” (think Clockwork Orange with less forced cinema). All in all, mildly interesting but nothing worth DVRing about. I did learn an important lesson in television production, though: Always include the words “scantily clad,” and “intoxicated” in episode descriptions. The next PTI episode description should read, “An intoxicated Tony Kornheiser discusses the hot topics in sports with a scantily clad Michael Wilbon.” See? Totally works.
Will This Show Be Included in the GRTFL? Hell no.

Parking Wars
Network: A&E
Premise: We follow people as they dish out parking tickets to drivers who yell insults at them.
My Take: Answer this question: Is there a more thankless job than parking enforcement officer? Have you ever been happy to see someone giving out a parking ticket? Have you ever said, “Man, I am sure glad parking enforcement was there to take care of that — what would we ever do without them?” No. You never have. There is a reason that you will see Times Square T-shirts that say “NYPD” and “NYFD” but never “NYPE.” That reason is that everyone hates parking enforcement officers. Everyone. I don’t know it for a fact, but I heard that in the mid-1930s, just for giving him a ticket, Gandhi himself smacked the shit out of a parking enforcement officer.

Parking Wars is the show that lets us ride along with the parking enforcement officers as they ticket cars, throw boots on cars, and get insulted by the recipients of those tickets and boots. The most interesting officer we follow is named Ponytail.

Ponytail has a ponytail. Ponytail also has a propensity to beat a metaphor to death. You see, it was supposed to rain the day that ponytail set out to assess his quota of $30 parking tickets in Detroit, and he actually said the following quotes in real life:

    1. “I am a black cloud.”
    2. “The cloud looks like a ponytail.”
    3. “The weather forecast predicted storms, but I have my own prediction: There is going to be a ticket flood.”
    4. “This is my version of making it rain. [Prints out ticket.]”
    5. “Lightning strikes … POW! [Places ticket in window.]”
    6. “Buy you some flood insurance, because if I come sweeping through here I am taking everything with me.”
    7. “Pay your meter and I promise you this storm will pass you by.”

These quotes not only reflect Ponytail’s maddening ability to squeeze every drop of metaphor juice out of a single concept, they also display the most important takeaway from watching Parking Wars — these people actually enjoy giving you parking tickets. How many times have you caught a parking enforcement officer in the middle of giving you a ticket and they gave you the whole helpless routine, “I am sorry, there is nothing I can do. I have to give you this ticket. It’s my job.” Well, turns out that is total bullshit. They are doing it because, in their head, they’re ticket tornadoes put on this earth to “make it rain.” It’s safe to say that after watching this show you will feel more — not less — hatred for parking enforcement officers because of the pleasure they take in doling out fines.

No lie, at one point Ponytail was printing and placing tickets with flair on some And1 Parking Enforcement shit. At another point I was rooting for a woman to assault him. I hate Ponytail.

Will This Show Be Included in the GRTFL? Nope. As much as I hate Ponytail, I don’t hate him enough to ever watch this show again.

GRTFL Top Scorers

Let’s not forget about our favorite handbag/cocktail/wine bottle/high-heeled shoe tossers, the Basketball Wives. Even as the lone show currently being scored in the GRTFL, they manage to keep things interesting. This week, instead of full wine bottles being thrown at Kenya, there were only insults. I think it’s safe to say she was happier when it was wine bottles.

Kenya (Basketball Wives, Kang), 20 points:Kenya, the new one who everyone thinks is cray cray, decided to have a screening of her music video for all the other Basketball Wives so they could offer their criticism. (20 points) Great idea, Kenya! This idea is also the perfect opportunity to drag out an ol’ GRTFL staple, “Perception vs. Reality”:

Perception vs. Reality, Kenya’s Music Video Screening:
Kenya’s perception of the other Basketball Wives’ anticipation: “I know that Kenya has been working really hard on this and I am very excited to see the results. I want nothing but the best for her.”
The reality of the other Basketball Wives’ anticipation: “From my understanding no one likes Kenya, so this video screening is going to be very interesting.”

Kenya’s perception of how the other Basketball Wives will react after seeing the video: “Wow, Kenya, I had no idea you had that in you, I am impressed.” “Girl, you can really dance.” “Look out, Rihanna!” “I apologize for ever doubting you.” “Did you lose weight?”
The reality of how the Basketball Wives reacted after seeing the video: “I think it is great that you have an ambition, but you should just complement your look … and age.” “You need a better stylist.” “I would do the dance scenes over.” “You cannot dance, Kenya … I know that you believe that you can … but we could see that you could not do it.” “She doesn’t listen, she alienates everybody, and she still thinks it is 1992.”

Kenya’s perception of what the Basketball Wives will say in summary:“You are the voice of the next generation.”
The reality of what the Basketball Wives said in summary: “You haven’t shown this video to anyone else, have you? Keep this as a keepsake and let’s do something else.”

Poor girl. I don’t feel bad for her because of the emotional damage the biting comments most certainly caused. I feel bad because the overwhelming power of her own delusion has put her in a position where she thinks “record a pop song and music video” is her first step to becoming an international pop star. She has a better chance of eating a doughnut that will become her first step to becoming a champion sumo wrestler.

Tami (Basketball Wives, Simmons), 5 points: Tami cried this week (5 points) when she revealed to her mother that she was sexually abused as a child. There really isn’t anywhere for me to go with that.

Do me a favor and leave suggestions for more shows that I should be checking out for GRTFL inclusion in the comments. I look forward to evaluating them for next week. Until then …

Filed Under: Basketball Wives, Khloe Kardashian, Los Angeles Lakers, R&B, Reality TV Fantasy League

Jacoby

David Jacoby is an ESPN producer who somehow became a writer and editor for Grantland.

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