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Lakers' Lamar Odom voted league's best bench player

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lamar Odom, who became the first Los Angeles Laker to win the NBA award for best player in a reserve role on Tuesday, hopes the recognition will make people think twice before considering him an underachiever.

Odom, who joined the Lakers in 2004 as part of the trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat, won the Sixth Man Award after a season where he shot 53 percent from the field, the highest shooting mark of his 12-year career.

"There was a point in my career where people were ready to call me an underachiever, so winning an award like this is kind've right at those people that were ready to call me an underachiever," Odom, the fourth overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, said at a news conference.

Odom, who came off the bench in 47 games and started 35, averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and three assists per game for the Lakers, who finished second in the Western Conference.

To be eligible for the award, a player must come off the bench as a reserve in more games than he starts.

"At the end of the day I am just a player trying to fill a certain role and the role at this point in my career is to play at a high level all the time and try to change the momentum of the game," said Odom.

The Lakers are trailing their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets 1-0. The series resumes Wednesday in Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Julian Linden)