Rhode Island basketball players were given a motivational boost as they took the floor for their NCAA Tournament game Friday against Creighton —former Ram and NBAer Lamar Odom was there to watch.
Odom, who obtained legendary hoops status at Rhode Island despite playing only one year there, was a surprise spectator at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
“Our kids went crazy when they saw him,” Rhode Island assistant Jim Carr said, per Fox Sports. “We’ll take all the good luck charms we can get.”
The No. 11 seed Rams cruised to an 84-72 victory over No. 6 Creighton for the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since it reached the Elite Eight in 1998, the year before Odom arrived.
None of the current Rams players had ever seen Odom in person before, but his game-winning shot in the 1999 Atlantic 10 championship game against Temple is Rhode Island famous.
“Once we saw him, it was like man, he really came back,” said junior Jarvis Garrett. “He’s a legend here.”
Odom sat next to his college coach Jim Harrick during the game and paid a visit to the Rhode Island locker room after the win.
Odom promises to be back in the arena when the Rams take on No. 3 Oregon on Sunday.