"Have you ever put your hands in really warm water after they were really cold?" Metta World Peace asked a few reporters Sunday night after the Lakers' first preseason win, days before Lamar Odom was rushed to the hospital. "That's the worst pain in the world."
That's not true. The pain World Peace and the rest of Odom's basketball family are feeling now is much worse following news that Odom was found unconscious in Nevada and subsequently hospitalized. A clearly anguished World Peace spoke to reporters after the Lakers' practice on Thursday, and for one of the first times in his career, the always quotable forward had nothing to say.
"There is nothing I can say that is going to make sense right now."
World Peace isn't the only Laker clearly distraught by Lamar's situation. Kobe Bryant, he who allegedly never connects with teammates, is also clearly agonizing over Odom. Bryant left the Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings early to be by his basketball brother's bedside, realizing something the rest of us are coming to understand.
I love basketball. I love writing about it, watching it, talking about it and breaking it down. Right now D'Angelo Russell's spot in the rotation, how many threes the Lakers are shooting, and whether or not Robert Upshaw is going to make the team all seem inconsequential. It's hard to care about a game while someone who almost feels like family -- even if I never had the pleasure of meeting him -- is fighting for his life in Nevada.
I'm not here to make this about me. You don't care why I connected with Lamar Odom, because if you are reading this you very likely have your own story and reasons. And that's the point. This isn't about any of us, or Kobe, or Metta, or even the Kardashians.
"It's all about Lamar and his children, and that's the only thing that's important," said World Peace, who sent his brother Daniel Artest to stay at a hotel across the street to watch over Lamar, their childhood friend.
Friday morning, Artest confirmed the report from the L.A. Daily News on Thursday night that Lamar "showed responsiveness," tweeting that Odom, "did open his eyes, tried to bite the tube out his throat. He squeezed his wife hand and others as well." Further updates paint the picture that Odom is miraculously improving, now "conscious and breathing on his own... and has spoken a few words," according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Small steps, but possible reasons to hope for more progress in the coming days after initial reports of Odom's prognosis were dim.
"I've known Lamar since I was eleven years old and we just grew up together," World Peace said, "We got drafted together the same year... we just want him to do well, and that's it. We just want him to get better."
World Peace was referring to himself and Lamar's childhood friends, but it's a sentiment ultimately replicated by everyone who cares about Odom. We all just want him to get better, whether we have ever met him or not, whether we knew him personally, or from watching him play basketball, or his life as a reality star. Kobe Bryant may have put it best yesterday without actually saying anything at all:
Don't question why people care about him. It doesn't matter if news outlets refer to him as "NBA All-Star" or "Reality TV Star" in order to reference how their audience may best remember him. It doesn't matter if those taking care of him in the hospital are Lakers or Kardashians. Everyone involved wants the same thing.
We all just want Lamar Odom to get better.