The Kardashian industrial complex subsidizes its novelty corsets and Calabasas mansions by churning out riveting stories and jaw-dropping scandals. But for every Kylie chemtrail and opportunistically timed selfie, the Kardashians have managed to stumble upon a truly dramatic, heartrending narrative arc. Think Death of a Salesman as scripted by Ryan Seacrest, brought to you by Kylie Jenner hair couture and a tragicomic re-imagining of the American Dream. While Caitlyn Jenner’s transition cemented this hard-hitting brand of Kardashian pathos, Khloé Kardashian and Lamar Odom’s doomed love story was the first example of a truly salty, savory emotional journey buried within Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ confectionary “reality.”
In late July, the long national nightmare of Khlomar’s six-year marriage appeared to be finally over, with both Odom and Kardashian signing legal documents to finalize their two-year-long divorce proceedings. But not so fast! On Wednesday morning, reports surfaced that Odom “ambushed and verbally attacked” his ex-wife (and James Harden’s current girlfriend) outside a SoulCycle studio in Beverly Hills. According to TMZ, Odom “came out of nowhere, screaming at her,” touching Khloé’s arm before shouting at a concerned eyewitness, “You’re not going to call the cops on Lamar Odom!” The TMZ report insists that Kardashian was blindsided by the confrontation, even asking Odom, “How did you know I was here?” before bolting from the scene.
Naturally, Odom didn’t take well to TMZ's implication that he was behind the greatest spike in criminal activity ever witnessed outside SoulCycle Beverly Hills. When confronted by a TMZ cameraman, the former NBA player went off on the incident, saying, “You know I know Khloé. You know I know her. So how would you think I ended up there?… So was there a address or a place given, or I just guessed right? Did I just guess right, where this girl may be, that I know?” A visibly irritated Odom continued, “Nobody got followed, nobody got hassled, nobody got harassed, nobody got grabbed on, none of that. I don’t believe in following people around.”
Even without knowing the specifics of the SoulCycle showdown, Odom’s anger is justified by his tumultuous, parasitic relationship with the TMZ rumor mill. Like Kris Jenner in any Kardashian’s romantic relationship, TMZ was Khlomar’s omnipresent third wheel long before the couple married in September 2009 (or, in TMZ’s words, “Lamar & Khloé—Officially Stuck with Each Other”). Ever since the first kinks began to show in the celebrity duo’s marriage in 2011, the gossip website religiously kept up with the Kardashian-Odoms, chronicling their fertility issues, their failed spin-off, Khloé and Lamar, and Odom’s professional woes with the Dallas Mavericks.
But things took a real turn for the nasty when TMZ started its round-the-clock coverage of Odom’s alleged infidelity and drug addiction, going so far as to call him a crack addict and accuse the basketballer of cheating on Kardashian whenever she went out of town. The gossip site alleged that Odom’s crack cocaine addiction was the reason “his marriage to Khloé fell apart.” In 2012, TMZ reported that Kardashian “forced Lamar to go to rehab,” where he stayed for three weeks. In 2013, Odom rebutted divorce rumors, insisting that “Khloé is everything I want in a woman.” Later that year, when a paparazzo pressed him on alleged affairs, Odom lashed out and attacked his photography equipment.
When TMZ’s crack cocaine coverage flooded the interwebs in August 2013, Khloé Kardashian tweeted: “Really hard to sit here and listen to people talk shit about my family! Fuck you and shame on you! I’m too protective for this shit.” Later that month, Odom was arrested for a DUI and refused to take a drug test. According to TMZ, Kardashian proceeded to issue an ultimatum, barring Odom from their home unless he got clean. Odom checked into rehab but promptly checked himself out the following afternoon. Amid reports of crack cocaine binges, partying with women, and a really depressing (and incriminating) Lamar Odom freestyling video, Kardashian finally filed for divorce in December 2013.
After years of being accused of sleeping/doing crack cocaine with everyone and their mother, it seems like Odom has finally had it with TMZ and its exploitative brand of tell-all “journalism.” After refuting Wednesday’s sensationalist story, Odom spoke truth to tabloid, ranting, “Do not disrespect my character, because that’s what y’all been doing. And from day one, even if half the things were true, people know who I am and y’all have discredited me, beat me down, took my confidence, took everything away from me. You will not do it again. I know what your company is about. I know what they doing to brothers. I know what y’all doing to the rappers. I know you want ’em beefing. I know you want ’em arguing. Y’all don’t do Leo like that. Y’all don’t do Brad like that. Y’all don’t do them like that.”
Odom went on to chastise the media outlet for continuously labeling him as a drug addict and a womanizer, insisting, “I probably couldn’t even get fucking hired by Home Depot right now because of how people look at me.” Even if everything that TMZ has published about Odom is true (which is about as likely as Kylie Jenner’s alleged pregnancy), the website still profited off its relentless coverage of one man’s tragic addictions. Odom’s theory that black men are exploited for manufactured beefs and incendiary scandals isn’t easily dismantled—it’s hard to name a white celebrity who has been so thoroughly crucified by a paparazzi campaign. RIP, responsible celebrity coverage, and RIP, Khlomar.