The Philippines’ basketball fans are buzzing with excitement after former NBA star Lamar Odom announced that he would be returning to the court to play for the Philippines’ Mighty Sports at the Dubai International Basketball Championship in February 2019.
The two-time NBA champion on Tuesday, December 19 through a post on Instagram accompanied by a photoshopped picture of him wearing a Mighty Sports jersey confirmed that he would be suiting up for the Philippine-based team.
View this post on Instagram
I’d like to announce that I will be playing in The Dubai International Basketball Championship this February 1st 2019 !!!!!!! 🏀I will be representing team @mightysports_ph from the Philippines with my 4ever #7 ! To me this is a great warming up for the @thebig3 !! It’s been a minute since I’ve professionally competed and I hope to be as explosive as I used to be! I was hoping to be ready for the Chinese CBA earlier this year but I didn’t feel that I was physically were I wanted to be. ( yet) I needed more time to recover from my multiple strokes and hearts attacks. Im not giving up and going in full force !! Patience and moving FORWARD is KEY! Special thanks to @femaleagentsr @charlestiu for making me part of this amazing tournament in Dubai! #teamreyes ! This wouldn’t be possible without the support of my kids, @destiny_odom @lamar.morales.odom, MY FANS, my team @jared_dyem @bryantaustin23 @xpesports @billythakid23 @m2exec @showtimepersonaldevelopment @willvlo @therealyasin @ninetyplusofficial @mr2rchiang @chaselucid @saamzangenehlaw @hemplucid ! Thanks @iamzoul for building the road to my comeback life chapter ! LETSGOO 💪🏿#newpages #2019 #dubai #manila #basketball
“It’s been a minute since I’ve professionally competed and I hope to be as explosive as I used to be!,” Odom wrote. He explained that he initially hoped to play in the Chinese Basketball Association but decided he needed to recover from a series of ailments.
He will instead be using his Mighty Sports stint to prepare for the Big 3 three-on-three tournament which features many former NBA stars.
“I was physically where I wanted to be (yet). I needed more time to recover from my multiple strokes and hearts attacks. I’m not giving up and going in full force !! Patience and moving FORWARD is KEY!,” he added.
Mighty Sports coach and sports reporter Charles Tiu shared Odom’s excitement.
This is what I've been waiting to announce. Can't wait to have @RealLamarOdom play for our @MightysportsPH team at the Dubai Invitational tournament as he makes his comeback into professional basketball. Looking forward to it. It Will be an honor to coach him. https://t.co/iKF9gRPa92
— Charles Tiu (@charlestiu) December 18, 2018
Filipino fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Odom helped steer to two championships, cheered Odom’s announcement.
A legend suits up for the Philippines
The 6’10 power forward known for his inside presence and finishing ability played 14 storied seasons for the NBA. Despite the glory attached to his name, Odom has been forced to face controversy over the years.
Academic problems forced him to transfer from basketball powerhouse University of Nevada at Las Vegas to Rhode Island University. He struggled with committing to school work at his new college but was spurred on by his family, friends and team.
His 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in one season for the Rams impressed NBA scouts. He was drafted with by the Los Angeles Clippers with the fourth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft.
Odom was a Rookie of the Year contender in his first seasons, averaging 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals and was named to the First Rookie Team.
He was traded to the Miami Heat ahead of the 2003 season, after four seasons with the Clippers. He only played one season with the Heat as he was later included in the trade with the Lakers for legendary bigman Shaquille O’Neal in what would be considered one of the history-shaping moments in the NBA.
It was with the Lakers that Odom built the bulk of his legacy. Dominant even when coming off the bench, Odom helped all-star teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol lead the Lakers out of mediocrity and back to the NBA Finals in 2008. In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Lakers’ “Big Three” won back-to-back championships.
He was awarded the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2011, just before he left the Lakers. He played two more seasons with the Clippers and the Mavericks before retiring from the league.
In 2015, Odom was hospitalized and later went into a coma after a series of strokes and a battle with kidney failure. He had been using cocaine prior to the incident.
He endured a series of personal tragedies in the years prior, such as the murder of a close cousin, the breakdown of his marriage with celebrity Khloe Kardashian and witnessing an SUV he was riding accidentally hit and kill a teenage cyclist.
With the support of family and former teammates, Odom went into rehabilitation following his recovery from the ailments.