Lamar Odom Press Conference Transcript

Caron Butler, Eddie Jones, Lamar Odom and Brian Grant
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

Pat Riley Opening Statement:
It’s been a long summer, but a good summer. I’m looking for my travel consultant here, he’s not here today, Greg Stoda, I wanted to bring my itinerary for the summer and let him know where I was, because at one time he said that I was nowhere to be found. So should I tell you where I have been all summer? Well all of South Florida, the Keys, and I was over in Ft. Meyers and Naples in April when I should have been in the playoffs, I’m trying to change that right now. Then we had the draft in June and free agency and draft choices and we were very fortunate to draft Dwyane Wade. In July we had free agency and we went out and did a number of things in free agency and then when I was nowhere to be found I was over with Mr. Arison in the Mediterranean and then I went to Hawaii with my wife and family and put James (Riley’s son) in college, finally he’s in college. Elizabeth (Riley’s daughter) is in high school and I’ve been to seven (Bruce) Springsteen concerts. So that’s been my summer.

Today is the best day of all of them. It’s really a privilege for me, as the Head Coach and President of this team for the third time in eight years to out of necessity and for a lot of reasons to rebuild. It all started with Zo (Alonzo Mourning) eight years ago, Tim Hardaway, P.J. (Brown), Mash (Jamal Mashburn), and Dan Majerle we put together what we felt was a very competitive team and it was. Then we began again with Eddie (Jones) and with Brian (Grant) and obviously we don’t have to go through the fact that we were derailed for three years because of the illness to Alonzo. We start again, today, with Eddie and with Brian as captains obviously and we made two draft choices with Caron Butler and Dwyane Wade and now with the addition of Lamar Odom, I think we have a nucleus that will be very very competitive and fun team to watch play. I don’t think we have anybody in that group that is under 6’5”, not that I have anything against anybody who is under 6’5”. But we feel that we are going to have a team that is going to have overall size and overall length with each player being able to handle the basketball and make plays. We really want to change the thinking as to how we have played the game over the years because we don’t have nor do many other teams have the dominating low-post presence like we had with Alonzo or like San Antonio has with Tim Duncan or L.A. with Shaquille (O’Neal). This is the first day that we can actually say that we have succeeded in making a change. I think one of the great things about being able to have a talent like Lamar Odom is that to be able to get him in free agency. While we had the room to move quickly and to go through a 15 day period, where we had to wait, it sort of helps us fast track the whole rebuilding process by getting a talented player and not having to wait another year, or wait for another draft. I apologize a little bit for the silence that the HEAT showed during the 15 days because we wanted the nature of the business to run its own course with this process and it did. We were very fortunate that they did not match the offer sheet and at 11:59 last night we could really have a sigh of relief that we have fast tracked this rebuilding process. I’m very excited about this opportunity. I feel very strongly about the objectives that we set out to achieve and have achieved and we still have, I think, a great future ahead of us. The objectives of this franchise after the last couple of years of not being in the playoffs, and trying to get back as competitive as we can and as quick as we can. I’ve made mention of Eddie, Brian, Caron, and Dwyane and now with the addition of Lamar, we feel we have done that. I think we have left ourselves from another objective in a situation where we do have some flexibility in years to come under the luxury tax and so a lot of good things have happened over the last couple of years to try to set ourselves up with the opportunity to be able to do this. So without any further ado I would like to introduce a player I have a lot of respect for from a basketball standpoint. He is a talented player and has overcome some things that we all know about and are behind him and one of the reasons why we didn’t talk much about those things is because we believe they are behind I’ve been around basketball for about 37 years and there’s only been one other player that I’ve coached that has ever had this much versatility as a player and able to play four different positions. There is going to be a lot of pressure put on Odom by us to make him accountable and that player was Magic Johnson. I’m not saying that he is going to be that good because he is going to have to prove that. I don’t think anybody can ever be that way but from a standpoint of a talent, he has those kinds of skills. I hope we can provide the platform here for him to be able to show that. So I want to introduce the newest member of the Miami HEAT as we move on into the millennium; Lamar Odom.

Lamar Odom Opening Statement:
I just want to thank everybody for coming out today. I want to thank Coach Riley, Mr. Randy Pfund, and Mr. Arison for giving me this opportunity to join this team and this great franchise. I’m just here looking forward to helping this team get to the playoffs. I’m really focused right now in this point in my life and as coach said, I’ve been through some things that I want to put in my past and I’m just ready to become the best player that I can be and I think I have the opportunity to do that here.

Lamar, What first drew you to Coach Pat Riley? You’ve said that you have been wanting to play here since you were like 15 years old.
I think the first thing that drew me to Coach Riley was that he coached my favorite player in the whole wide world; Magic Johnson. Coach Riley and I met before in 1999 and it was just a relationship long awaited.

Can you talk about the possibility of playing in a smaller line-up as a power forward, to the possibility of being the full-time ball handler as a point forward or point guard?
Exactly what you are talking about is the great thing that I love about basketball. I feel comfortable anywhere on the court. Whether it’s my back to the basket or making plays for others. I’m just here to get the ball to Eddie Jones when I have to, score the ball when I have to, whether to give Brian Grant a dunk, or run the break, whatever I have to do for this team I will do no matter what.

Would you play power forward and if so would you have to bulk up to go against big guys, and have you spent much time consistently playing that position?
Not consistently, I think my natural position is small forward. To me point guard is a mental position, you can play the point guard from anywhere on the court and I think that is the advantage I have over other players. If I have to play the four to make this team better, with me and Brain Grant at center and power forward, I will. I will do anything that is asked of me while I’m here.

How comfortable would you be defending other power forwards in the league?
It’s tough, but I think the tough part on their end would be to defend me out on the perimeter. Its kind of you win some, you lose some and I’m ready for anything on the basketball court. Of course I have to get stronger, but that’s just part of the game.

In your rookie season you played the point, is that the most that you have played the pure point in the NBA and did you think about it?
It is the most I played point guard after the All-Star break for the whole end of the year, but I’m ready and willing to do anything. My position is play maker, whether it’s power forward or the point guard, small forward, whatever, I feel like I can guard 4 four positions, so whatever positions you can guard, I think that is a position that you are able to play. So I’m ready to do anything, I’m just looking forward to getting out there, to get with the team and make this team a better one.

Is it tough defending those little guys?
It is, but I use my length. I’m 6’10 so I can space them a little bit and gap them a little bit. I’m just ready to get out on the court and play Lamar Odom type of basketball.

How much have you improved during your years in the league and what are the areas that you want to develop in your game?
I think I have to get stronger. I want to become quicker and I want to become a better shooter. I’ve learned the game a lot since my first year in the NBA to now. I think my basketball I.Q. has gone up. I’m just ready to do anything to help this team win some games. We’ve got some young talent here in Eddie Jones, Brian Grant, Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler, and Rasual Butler, so anywhere coach puts me on the court, I think I can be affective.

Do you feel the drive to be great in you?
Yeah, I know I have it in me. I know I’m in the right place to be driven to be great. I’m ready. Never in my life have I been so ready, but right now I am and that’s why I did everything that I needed to do to get here.

Why do you think that in your four years in L.A. that you didn’t reach your full potential, was it some part you, or was it some part other circumstances?
I’m going to take the full blame for that. Maybe I wasn’t ready, it was just a learning experience over there. I feel that I’m in a class A organization right now, great coach, great people around me. I think I have a better chance here than I did there. I’m still only 23-years-old. I have made mistakes and now it’s time to correct those mistakes and become Lamar Odom.

How much do you think Pat Riley’s influence will be the difference in bringing out the best in you?
I think he brought it out of a lot of players. You see Alonzo Mourning become a lot better since his move from Charlotte to here, Jamal Mashburn; you know. Coach is a winner and I want to be around winners. I think winning is an attitude, and the Miami HEAT organization has a great attitude. I’m just really prepared and really ready right now and September is training camp and I’m in great shape right now and if the season started right now, I’m just ready. I don’t know any other way to say it, but I’m really focused right now in this part of my life.

You have been working out everyday, and that you are in the best shape of your life. Is that in preparation for some of Coach Riley’s training?
Oh yeah, I heard about coach’s training, the garbage cans in the corners and things like that, but I’m ready for that. I want to become Top 10, Top five player in the NBA; that’s where I should be. I think I’ve been slacking a little bit and not pushing myself and I think this is a great opportunity for me to push myself and put myself in a position to become an All-Star.

Do you believe that your past problems was a maturity thing?
I think so, a lot has happened to me really fast. We all make mistakes and I’m just ready to put my mistakes behind me and look forward to the future and start making the best happen for myself and for this organization. I feel like I owe this organization a lot and I’m ready to give back.

You came from a fun team and then you look at this line-up, do you see fun times out there with you with the ball and Dwyane, Caron, and Eddie on the wings and even if the winning takes a little while, do you see that at the least will be fun?
We will be fun, especially when you are playing with a group of guys like this. Even Eddie Jones is considered young even though he is a veteran. Brian Grant is a veteran, Rasual is young, Caron is in his second year, Dwyane Wade is a tough ball player and it will be fun; I can at least promise you that. I’ve always had fun on the court. I approach every game to winning. Whatever I have to do to win, whether it’s dive on the floor, grab the rebound, block shots, get the ball at the end of the game to make the play, I’m ready to do that. It will be fun. We have some athletes that can make plays and get above the rim. You’ll see a lot of ally-oops, and some things like that. I’m just going to try to make plays for these guys and get them the ball where they can score and get my man Mr. Grant some dunks and easy buckets and just try to win, approach every game to winning.

In the last eight years of your life from the NCAA tournament, being drafted number four, to suspensions and injuries, and now you’re here, how would you sum up your last eight years?
It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster ride and it’s been educational. I learned a lot about myself and my surroundings, how to deal with the media, and I’ve learned a lot. I would have to say education to tell you the truth and that’s a part of the growing process. Whether your in school or playing basketball in the street, wherever your at, I’ve been learning a lot about the world these last eight years. I’m just focused right now and I’m trying to put the negative things that happened in the past and trying to bring the positives with me here.

Lamar, with the injuries the last couple of years, has that been a set back in your career, but otherwise have been healthy and was there any concern that you could play anything?
I’ve always been healthy. I hurt my wrist and I hurt my ankle the day I was supposed to get my cast off. So I didn’t hurt my ankle really in a game, not a lot of people know that. It was just one of those things, kind of a freak accident. That’s why I’m working out everyday so that never happens again. It was one of those athletes nightmare injuries, especially to get that label; injury prone. I don’t want to get that label put on myself so I’m just doing everything I can to avoid that now.