Because every stupid thing in sports requires one to take sides, we're torn on this one. Do we agree with the guy who willingly puts his life on display on an E! reality show, then says it's not fair to talk about his personal life? Or do we agree with — gulp — Bill Plaschke? You can see our dilemma.
Here's the nut of what we're dealing with:
Everyone contends that neither the Lakers nor one of their most important players suffered during the making - and now, showing - of the cheesy series about the married life of an NBA star and a D-League celebrity.
But, still, one shaky game into the postseason, you have to wonder whether the Khloe & Lamar show is working out a lot better for Khloe than Lamar.
Well, no, "you" don't have to wonder. Bill Plaschke has to wonder if Lamar Odom's one rough game to kick off the playoffs is all because of his reality show with wife Khloe Kardashian. (In game 2, after Plaschke's column was published, Odom was the team's second leading scorer with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Don't expect the "Khloe & Lamar is good for Odom's career column any time soon.)
But this is a very Los Angeles sort of story, more to the point, a very Bill Plaschke sort of story. Bill Plaschke is very concerned with athletes being distracted. A sampling from his archives:
•Matt Kemp: "But Kemp has changed. He still shows up early and does his work, but his play has often been filled with more distraction than passion. Though some say he has been caught up in the fast life with famous girlfriend Rihanna, there is really no proof."
•Lindsey Vonn: "The athlete on the stage is talking about dealing with the pressure of a debilitating shin injury and suffocating Olympic hopes. The babe on the website is posing seductively in a white fur wrap too small for her chest and hot pants too tight for her bottom."
•USC football: "At the very least, Lake's threat is just another distraction for a program that, for the first time under Coach Pete Carroll, actually does seem distracted."
•USC football: "It didn't help, perhaps, that the whole shebang took place on a green carpet in the middle of the ocean, in a place where the marching band played the theme from Hawaii Five-0 while a cheerleader was carried into the stadium on a surfboard. To the tropical distractions, add a new coaching staff, a roster thinned by probation defectors, and a bunch of players about whom Kiffin said he was unsure.'"
•Phil Jackson: "Jackson was briefly his own distraction when he offered support of Arizona's awful new immigration law, but even if you disagree with him — and I do, vehemently — at least he took the heat and answered the question, a rarity among today's sports leaders."
•LeGarrette Blount: "Sounds as if his coach still considers him a distraction not worth the inspiration that his story would generate."
•Manny Ramirez: "He will arrive at Dodger Stadium today lugging 510 career home runs inside 510 pounds of baggage...The clubhouse may be a more difficult sell, particularly because Ramirez not only creates distractions, but a total of five potential starting outfielders."
•Manny Ramirez: "Today in a Phoenix suburb, the Chicago Cubs' Jeff Samardzija will throw a first pitch with two lasting meanings. The Dodgers will officially join the Cactus League.Manny Ramirez will officially become a distraction."
•Manny Ramirez: "Would [Pedro Martinez] be a distraction? Not on a team with Ramirez."
•Tiger Woods: "Someone to challenge him. Someone to pressure him. Someone to even just distract him. Wednesday, on the eve of his 2007 debut at the Buick Invitational here, Woods acknowledged that that person was coming."
•Mike Dunleavy: "The Clippers and Dunleavy seemed on the verge of completing a four-year contract worth a reported $5.6 million annually, but negotiations have hit a snag on bonuses and other things. If the deal is not worked out soon, don't be surprised if Dunleavy issues some sort of deadline to avoid a season-long distraction."
•Brett Tomko's mother: "Donna didn't tell Brett about her Stage 1 breast cancer until after he had defeated the Phillies. 'It was the hardest I've ever had to hold back tears in my life, but there was no way I was going to distract him from his game,' she said.
•Kwame Brown: "'I'm sure this is a distraction for him,' said Coach Phil Jackson. And, for both the kid player and his team, Tuesday's bad-news buzz could be just beginning.
•Michelle Kwan: "'I don't think, in my heart, I could be my best,' she said Sunday morning. And then, in a typically dignified Kwan move, she took a flight back to Los Angeles so she wouldn't be a distraction.
•Milton Bradley: "He claimed to be a gamer, but then injured a finger and disappeared for two months, causing teammates to wonder. Then, when he returned, the tension between him and those teammates was a constant distraction."
•Terrell Owens: "It's a shame he won't consider the distraction he is causing his uncertain team, and the fuel he is giving the confident Patriots."
•The 2004 Iraqi national soccer team: "Turns out, that won't be necessary, Paraguay apparently having exploited the weariness of a team that may finally have buckled under the distractions."
•Tommy Lasorda: "But Lasorda needs to be involved even more. Not only in the meetings among Dodger officials, but in meetings with other teams. Sure, sometimes his mere presence can be a distraction."
•Every athlete everywhere: "For many years, longtime teammates devoid of distractions would sit around their lockers and bond over beers for a couple of hours a night. But in today's rock-star era everything is different."
You might have noticed that this is more accurately a list of things that distract Bill Plaschke. Distract him, a sports writer, from having to come up with actual sports things to write about. Lamar Odom won't play poorly because he went on TV, and he won't overcome the adversity of said TV show to play well. Those are just the easy ways out, prewritten narratives that certain writers return to over and over again because they don't have any new or intelligent ground to cover. It's the type of column one might submit if they were too distracted to write well, perhaps because they're on Around The Horn all the time.