Leave Lammy Alone!!

I am a fan of NBA Basketball and I’ve hated the Lakers since the mid-90s. I am also a fan of pop-culture and I am completely enamored by the Kardashian phenomenon.

So I took a special interest in the trade which sent reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lamar Odom, from LA to the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks after the lockout.

Fast-forward a few months into the abbreviated season and Odom is struggling to find his rhythm and place in Dallas, on and off the court. Sports analysts and tabloids alike seem baffled and miffed by Odom’s inability to “get over” the trade and play to the level everyone has become accustomed to.

This all came to a head about two weeks ago in the Mavs locker-room when owner Mark Cuban confronts Odom, asking that he either commit or quit. The following day, Odom was declared “inactive” for the remainder of the season. He and wife Khloe packed up and headed back to LA.

Now, the analysts are calling Odom “soft” and blaming his newfound notoriety in the Kardashian machine for the collapse. Then I read this article calling Odom unprofessional for his actions and I had enough …

LEAVE LAMMY ALONE!

When was the last time your employer decided they didn’t want you to work for them anymore — and got to choose your next job for you without any input from you?? Probably never.

And I am guessing if your employer did that after you were a top performer for years, you’d be pretty upset. It might take you a little while to get over it — especially if you had a family and built a life for yourself in one place only to have to move a couple thousand miles and time zones away. And you wouldn’t take too kindly to people questioning your dedication to your profession because of it.

Yeah. That’s what I thought. So leave Lammy alone.

I am all for analogies between sports, management, business and HR. I’ve written quite a few posts about it, as a matter of fact. However, just like in real HR where we preach about not losing the “human in our resources”, the same rules have to apply when we’re analyzing other professions. And when it comes to trades, we should back off a little with our criticism and judgment of the players … Free agents who block off an hour of network time to announce their decision to leave a franchise? That’s fair game. But a guy who had no real choice in where he ended up and when? That’s not really comparing apples to oranges.

So leave Lammy alone.

The one HR lesson I do find surrounds the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because if you’ve been paying attention, Odom has had some major life events going on in the last year that may be contributing to his performance problems on the court. He had death in his family and was involved in a car accident that killed a teenager on his way back from that funeral. He and Khloe are having fertility problems. He suffers from insomnia. He is late for practice and has been described as unfocused and melancholy … What does that sound like to you? Cuz it sounds like it could be depression to me. And that is a condition protected by quite a few laws!

The new ADA regulations are requiring employers to be more proactive in identifying, addressing and accommodating these types of issues. Terminating someone who runs into a rough patch after a series of person challenges could land you in some serious trouble if an employee pursues a claim.

Beyond that, why would anyone want to be the type of employer who would not allow employees time and opportunity to get help and heal? Whether it is a long-term employee who has consistently performed or a new employee whom you have invested a lot of time, money and effort to bring onboard — there is a case to be made on both accounts to work with employees to help them through their issues and bring them back to a place of productivity. Perhaps that’s why the Mavs chose not to send Odom to the D-League and make him inactive at this time … although, I kinda doubt that.

So either leave Lammy alone — or try to get him some help. But stop calling him names because you’re mad that he’s making millions and you’re not. Making a lot of money doesn’t mean you don’t get to hate your job, resent your employer or have personal crisis. And none of that makes you unprofessional. It makes you human.

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