LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Lakers forward Lamar Odom is revealing himself in the February issue of Playboy.
Odom, 31, bared his soul to the men’s magazine, talking about the loss of his grandmother and mother, his whirlwind romance and marriage to reality TV star Khloe Kardashian and his career with arguably the most storied franchise in the NBA.
Among the topics Odom discusses with Playboy are stories of his childhood growing up in Queens, NY and starring in a new E! reality show about life with his new wife, called “Khloe and Lamar.”
On growing up in Queens: “When you’re from Queens you learn a lot from the streets and the people in front of you. That’s part of a New Yorker’s upbringing…I learned from the dudes who were playing basketball and then the dudes who were serving [drugs]. It was a mixture of things you absorbed. I learned from my environment.”
On growing up playing basketball with fellow Laker Ron Artest: “Ron was from Queensbridge Housing Projects, and we grew up playing for the same traveling team, Brooklyn Queens Express. We used to go all around the city, playing in different tournaments. I always knew Ron was going to be one of those players who made it to the NBA.”
On how marrying Khloé has changed him: “Men, most of the time our goal is to have what we want when it comes to women…Most men like more than one woman. A lot of them would not want to admit that because that might not be cool, right? Most people don’t want to get married. Being married, that’s a responsibility. I always used to tell that to women. I don’t want a girlfriend because that means I’ve got a responsibility. I have a responsibility to call you. I have a responsibility not to be with another woman. I have a responsibility to be there on time when you need me. With her I was like, If I do what I normally do, I’m going to lose her. And if I lose her, I think it’s going to hurt a lot. Right then and there I knew. We were together every day.”
On accusations their love is fake, and their marriage is a “PR stunt”: “That’s just how gossip works, you know? You can’t stop it. Because at the time, with us being so successful—me in basketball and her show doing so well—it was too big. It was too huge. It caught people off guard. It looked as though we had too much to gain. That let me know, damn, it’s a big deal. Even the wedding was big. The list of her family friends was crazy. Those were her people showing up, showing their love. For some people that was too much to even think about. And it was quick. I guess that just added to the speculation—‘Why can’t they wait?’I didn’t want to wait.”
On the Lakers’ celebrity fans and who he thinks is the most passionate: “I was surprised at how much Jack Nicholson enjoys the game…Joel and Karyn Silver and Denzel Washington as well. Sometimes you think it’s just a show from the outside looking in, but being there, you’re surprised by how much they get into it…[Nicholson] gets on the refs. He gets on the refs hard. He rides them. He lets them know if they’re messing up or if they missed a call. It’s as though he’s in the game.”
On who is the NBA’s best—Kobe Bryant or LeBron James: “It’s hard to say who’s the best. Last year you would have given it to Kobe, and three years ago of course he won the MVP…even though my dude LeBron is having another extraordinary year, Kobe is skilled. He’s at the point in his career where he doesn’t have to average the most points. People think whoever averages the most points is the better player. They’re both playing at high levels and they’re both incredible players, but I always have to go with the home team.”
On meeting President Obama when the Lakers visited the White House: “That was cool. He can ball. And he plays lefty, so he has a unique way of thinking and doing things. He asked me, ‘How’s married life treating you?’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ He’s hip. He knows what’s going on. It was amazing. My grandmother was born in 1923 in Georgia in the segregated South, so the significance of this was pretty big to me.”