Bynum Shows Heart of a Champion

Jeff Skibiski —  June 21, 2010

June 13, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02200618 Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum makes a slam dunk in the first quarter of the NBA Finals Game Five at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 13 June 2010. The best of seven series is tied at two apiece.

His post-season stats won’t show it, but it was blatantly obvious in Game 7 – a game in which he primarily rode the bench – that Andrew Bynum has evolved as a player and as a man. Limited by a knee injury that has bothered him for months, the Lakers’ Big Enigma showed a sense of fortitude that has largely been missing during his first four years in the NBA.

Thankfully, I’ve never torn cartilage in my knee or moreover, tried to play basketball with an injury that severe. I imagine it doesn’t feel like a simple sprained or twisted knee though. Since he entered the league, Andrew has arguably been the most polarizing player on the Lakers roster, with some fans prognosticating a Hall of Fame career and others viewing him as one of the biggest busts in franchise history. Regardless of whether you are a Bynum apologist or champion, one thing was made abundantly clear in these epic 2010 playoffs: #17 is officially, undoubtedly, a gamer.

Gutty isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when you describe Bynum, but his performances against Oklahoma City, Utah, Phoenix and Boston were a huge testament to how far he has come since he was drafted directly out of high school. In many ways, I think that his newfound toughness paralleled that of the entire team in 2010, as evidenced by the Lakers’ grind-it-out mindset that clinched Game 7 against the Celtics. Instead of drawing Kobe’s ire, Andrew earned the remarkably resilient superstar’s respect during these playoffs by pushing forward on a leg that was ready to give out at any given moment. He also received praise from Pau Gasol, who was forced to fill the void in the paint when Bynum was out due to injury during the 2008 playoffs.

“What Andrew is doing throughout these playoffs has been incredible,” said Gasol. “To be able to play through his injuries and the soreness.”

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak echoed the Spaniard’s positive sentiments: “In the world of sports, it’s courageous to see a player get out there and do that. Of course, there are a lot of people in this country that are very courageous that are not in sports. I don’t want to overplay it. But in what we do, it’s showing a lot of guts and a lot of maturity to go out there and try to play.”

Even Phil Jackson, who has notoriously come down hard on Bynum, has noticed the change in his center’s mentality. After Bynum re-tweaked his troublesome knee during the Finals, Jackson said, “He’s been able to overcome those odds almost all the way through these playoffs, ever since Oklahoma. So we’re really optimistic that he’ll be able to find a way to do that.”

I am sure Bynum appreciates the words of encouragement, but the most sure-fire sign of his maturation during this year’s playoffs is that his drive to persevere through injury came from within. “It’s motivating for me,” said Bynum after Game 1 against the Celtics. “I’m just gonna to keep going out there and playing as hard as I can, and whatever happens, happens.”

Despite losing Game 2 at home, Bynum did exactly that with a difference-making 21 points, six rebounds and an especially impressive seven blocks.

In addition to his improved determination, Andrew also provided the Lakers with a boost of confidence and somewhat unexpected dose of enthusiasm, even when relegated to warming the bench at times during the 2010 playoffs.

“I think this one, when we win it, it’s going to taste much sweeter than the one last year,” said Bynum last Thursday before Game 7. “Just knowing that I played with the injury, [came] through and helped us get here. It’s big. We have to win. We’re at home. Everything. We have the momentum right now. We have to go out there and beat this team.”

His pre-game zeal matched his in-game vigor, as there was no bigger cheerleader at STAPLES Center during Game 7 than #17. Whether waving his hands in the air to energize an already rabid fan base or congratulating his teammates during each timeout, Bynum’s presence was felt even when he was not physically able to contribute on the court. As more of a role player in the Finals, Andrew was invaluable.

“It’s all about how you look at it and how you think,” said Bynum about his injury earlier in the playoffs. Call it perspective from playing in the league for a few years or Zen magic; Andrew has transformed himself into a player deserving of unanimous praise for the way he handled himself over the past two-plus months. How this translates into Bynum’s on-court production for next season remains a mystery. Watching him gut it out in these playoffs should finally end the speculation about his courage and heart though.

“I have to go out and be ready to play,” said Bynum before Game 7. No hesitation. No doubt. Just words of confidence from a player who blossomed in unexpected ways during the 2010 playoffs.

Jeff Skibiski

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75 responses to Bynum Shows Heart of a Champion

  1. I was impressed by the change in Bynum from earlier in the season. I remember I used to get frustrated that he would sulk (or at least seem to) when he didn’t get enough minutes or touches, and kind of jog up and down on the court. It looked like he couldn’t be bothered to put in effort.

    The Andrew Bynum that showed up for these playoffs, especially the series against the Celtics, was a very different, more mature person in every way, especially emotionally. It looked almost as if he was imitating (or emulating) Kobe’s approach to injuries, the way he downplayed it and brushed questions aside with a “of course I’ll play”, whenever they came up.

    That’s more than a personality change, it’s a distinct improvement, and I’m impressed. I hope it lasts.

  2. Great post Jeff. Bynum played with heart and determination for nearly the entire playoffs with his bum wheel. He was open about how he wasn’t 100% but still forthright about how he was trying to not miss any games so he could help his team. This is a far cry from the kid whose work ethic and desire was questioned by so many.

  3. I agree with this post wholeheartedly. Andrew Bynum was NOT the same player – to himself or to the fans – before these playoffs as he is now. The man played on 1 leg and, while he had bad games here and there, was as essential for this ring as any other Laker on the court. He has earned my respect – something I did not expect him to get as little as 5 months ago.

    Go figure.

    Now. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep the dude healthy. Maybe that knee injury that Perkins received will be a good omen for Bynum – like he will finally be removed from the bad luck of bad knees. That MCL tear that Perkins got – on a no contact play – is the type of play I expected Drew to go down on. I hope he passed that torch along.

  4. I truly respect what Bynum did in these playoffs. I know what it’s like to play on a injured knee. (I’ve had an ACL tear and meniscus damage.) The rehab is the worst part in all honesty. The problem I have with Bynum isn’t his work ethic anymore, but rather his proclivity for being injured. For this reason I think we should jump at the chance to get Chris Bosh if he’s available in a sign and trade. I wanted this deal earlier in the year as well. If you could somehow promise that Drew would never injure his knee again then I say stick with him cause he has shown so much this year, but I think he will injure it again and disappoint us all.

    Can’t say enough about how he gutted it out throughout these playoffs though…

  5. Bynum was so awesome he actually drew praise from a lot of Celtic bloggers. Now that’s saying something.

    I thought he did a great job of doing more with less. He really emphasized another dimension of his game, which is defense and physicality.

    I thought he was very effective without the ball, showing tremendous growth. He defended the interior rather well, and also set very good screens and everything else dirty work entails.

    People are going to argue Bosh is better. Better scorer? If Bynum got as many touches as Bosh, that would be debatable. Better defensive anchor? Not by a country mile.

  6. 4,
    You want to trade Bynum for Bosh? Im down for that… but then who do you suppose we sign or trade for to play at Center? Gasol and Bosh are very similar players. They are skilled PF’s who are finesse oriented big men and they are both All Stars. But you need to have a Center if you would like to win a championship. Look at the top 4 teams in the NBA this season… all of them had true Centers (Shaq, Bynum, Perkins, Howard). Look at what happened to the Celtics when they lost Perkins (who is just an average Center)… they got pushed around and killed on the boards. And it cost them the championship in games 6 and 7.

  7. Great job by Andrew growing up mentally. Fighting and playing through injuries shows heart and desire.

    Still, going forward I’m very concerned that pretty much all chances at a ring the next few seasons depend on his busted knees (yes, by now they are officially busted, not just injury-prone) I’m not a fan of a Bosh-Bynum swap because as someone has already said we’d lack any physical toughness inside. Our best move would probably be stealing the training crew from Phoenix, those guys are true shamans of the NBA.

  8. I think its likely we will have to be prepared for more injuries next year, with the the key guys getting older and guys with history’s of injurys like drew and walton i hope we can strenghen our bench and get deeper

  9. chibi made a good point about Andrew’s injury. In effect, he was forced to concentrate on his defense and using his massive body to clog the middle. Previously he seemed to focus on scoring and, when he didn’t get off, his defense suffered a bit. Maybe we should thank this injury for focusing him on his defensive play first – this play drew accolades from fans and foes alike – and going forward perhaps he will become a defensive center who can score, rather than an offensive center who will defend.

    The other part of fans’ criticism of Andrew is more related to his personality. He is internally focused like Kobe or Kareem, but much more open and friendly. However, he doesn’t emote Kobe’s drive. We often forget that Kareem had tremendous drive – he just didn’t show it to us. Kareem, the greatest scorer in NBA history, certainly drove his teams – just not with the obvious techniques used in today’s ESPN society. Andrew is different from both Kobe and Kareem, but that does not mean he doesn’t have drive.

    As fans, perhaps we can all step back and just allow a person to be who they are and stop trying to put a square peg in a round hole. That’s what the ‘talking heads’ continually try to do with Kobe and look where it got them. Don’t be a “talking head” with Andrew Bynum.

  10. I’ve always been a big fan of Bynum and thought he just needed time to grow. He’s always shown steady improvement in all areas of his game both physically and mentally. This year alone, his defense improved to the point Phil was complimenting him on it, a big deal when it comes to Phil. Phil also felt good enough about Bynum that he let him close the game against Boston in the regular season when Pau wasn’t playing well. Bynum always just needed the on court time to get better in all aspects.

    I was an advocate of letting him play through without surgery in the Utah and Phx series. I felt that he needed the experience of playing playoff basketball and those two teams, there was a bigger margin of error of allowing him to learn. That way he could be ready to go against Boston.

    One thing I haven’t noticed anyone mention on the Perkins injury, Bynum was a few feet away when the ball came down. Far away enough that Perkins didn’t think about boxing him out. But despite the bum knee, Bynum went for that board and contested it. He crashed into Perk and a side effect of that was Perk going down. Bynum didn’t do it intentionally but Perkins ended up being hurt. We all saw what a huge difference it made for Game 7.

    That was another example of Bynum’s hustle and heart and learning to play while hurt. Earlier in the year, I don’t know he goes after that board that hard if he’s dinged up.

  11. Great article!

    Love the attention the unsung hero Andrew Bynum is receiving.

    I like what Chibi and Craig W. have echoed and that is Andrew Bynum as a defensive center who can score.

    I think we hold on to Bynum, if for no other reason than the sacrifice he made to his body to achieve the 2010 NBA championship for the Lakers. Just think no Bynum no big to threaten in the paint; no Bynum-Boston is allowed to tag team Pau Gasol and he would have been out of gas in the 4th game; no Bynum no wearing out Boston to be able to win the rebound battle; no Bynum no one to battle Perkins and cause him to fall battling for the rebound with Bynum.

    Keep Bynum! Let Bosh go somewhere with LeBron or D-Wade!

  12. Igor,

    <>

    Man that is so accurate! Anyone who can keep Shaq and Richardson healthy, heal Grant HIll’s hoof troubles, and keep Nash playing at such a high level into his age is truly remarkable. Too many “coincidences” there to say fluke.

  13. Jeff and 9 (Craig W). Exactly my feelings about Drew. The guy could be the most unfiltered quote on the team after Ron-Ron. He always seems like he’s so open about how he can help the team and in what ways he needs to improve individually. Also, how many NBA centers rebuild computers in their spare time?

    Regarding his knees, I believe that Andrew is one of those guys that needs to hit the weights year round, including during the season. He’s too tall to do squats, but he could certainly hit the leg press with those 45-lb weights, and only do maintenance work on his upper body (except continuing to strengthen his grip). He also seems to be a guy who the team should shut down for three weeks in March and let him rest up and strengthen those legs again for the stretch run.

  14. Only way I say yes to Bynum for Bosh is if we get some unprotected 1st round picks with it. Toronto is going to suck for the near future and those unprotected first rounders will be good picks.

    Maybe also throw in Marco Belinelli and shed Sasha’s contract as well. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense basketball-wise or financially; Bosh replicates too much of what Gasol does and Bosh makes too much money (we can’t support 3 max contracts + Odom + Artest).

  15. I say we trade Bynum for Scalabrini.

    (I kid, of course)

  16. I’m against stealing the training crew from Phoenix as long as we have Gary Vitti on our staff. ESPN did a special on him not long ago, and one of the things that came up over and over was how fully and completely Kobe trusts that man to take care of him. I think we can all agree that keeping Kobe happy is high on our priority list.

    Back to more realistic trade scenarios, Aaron made a great point. Sure, having Bosh would be GREAT, but then who do we ask to play center? I don’t know if anyone remember, but just before he injured his knee, Bynum had a few really good games where he focused on defense, and in a few interviews he said that he hadn’t realized before how fun that could be, and how great it felt to really get going on the defensive end and help the team that way, and once the defense picks up, then his offense just came naturally.

    He had already figured it out, the the point where his team mates praised him for it (including Fisher and Kobe, the two alpha dogs all the young pups on the team seem desperate to please), and Phil Jackson call him out for it as well.

    What the injury did for Bynum was build grit and raise his pain threshold, and strengthen a defensive focus that had already started to grow.

    We have a big, very athletic and very strong center who is starting to take pride in playing defense. Yes, he’s injury prone, but when he’s healthy, who in the league could we sign that would be an upgrade for what we need at that position?

  17. If Bynum never gets injured then there is no question we stay with him and make him the next franchise center, but he did get injured and then he got injured again, and again. Knee problems are hard enough to get over when you weigh 200 lbs, and damn near impossible when you weigh 300. I just can’t believe this will not happen again and he won’t be able to play through these things every year. If Bynum doesn’t play the minutes he did after he tweaked his knee then we don’t beat the Celtics. I think that a fully healthy Bosh could have gotten us there this year.

    Do Pau and Bosh have similar games that overlap? Of course they do, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t mesh as a tandem. There is no way that Perkins could play Bosh away from the basket so that means KG would have had to and Bosh seems like a younger, quicker, more athletic version of the current KG so I think he would have won that match-up.

    Truthfully the offense seems to run much better with Odom/Gasol in the line up anyway so why not run a version of that full time? Gasol/Bosh or Gasol/Odom or Bosh/Odom. Anyway if the deal were to go down I would be happy with it and if it doesn’t and we keep Bynum who manages to stay healthy then I’m really really happy! If, however, he gets injured again next year then we will be kicking ourselves because every injury will be harder to come back from and will limit him athletically.

    -6 Aaron,
    I kinda disagree with you about needing a true center to win a championship. All you really need is a big man to command a double team on the block and That’s the quality that those 4 teams share. Gasol arguably outplayed Howard last year playing center. Lebron and the Cavs got to the ECF last year without a center. The Suns got to the WCF this year without a center. We would still have tons of length with Bosh instead of Bynum and that is what killed the Celts. It’s not like Bosh would suddenly forget how to grab 10 boards a game.

  18. I agree that Bynum has made huge strides (pun intended) in his attitude. However, that isn’t of much benefit if he is hurt. He has had 4 significant knee injuries in the last 5 years, and the one year he wasn’t hurt, he barely played at all. He has had maybe 20% availability in the playoffs in the past three years – that’s not enough for a team that is seriously trying to contend. Especially when you consider Odom’s inconsistency and the lack of PF/C depth on the bench beyond the big three.

    If his potential is enough to overcome the high chance of frequent injuries, there will be plenty of GMs looking to make trades with the Lakers. That will be a good way to measure his actual value (as opposed to his “Laker fan” value.)

  19. How gritty do you think Bynum would have been if the Lakers won in 2008? I think Bynum’s drive this year was a direct result of watching his team lose while riding the pine with an injury in 2008. He was driven by it. I’m glad he was receptive to the moment. I feel like many players would not be.

    I think many young players have an opportunity to galvanize their drive toward greatness, through experiencing tough times. Kobe’s airballs against Utah was that moment for him early in his career. (I’m not sure if Lebron’s had one, yet since he continues to deflect personally accountability)

    Hopefully Bynum can get his hops back and use his experience to move forward.

  20. The only center in the league who is better than Gasol is Howard. Bynum probably would be, if he could stay healthy. (Not including Yao Ming at this point.)

    Bynum averaged just over 24 minutes a game in the playoffs this season, 17 minutes a game in the playoffs last season, and about 2 mpg in 2008. So Gasol was the primary center for a team that has been to the finals three years in a row, and won the last two.

    As far as toughness, last year he outplayed the best center in the league in the finals. And anyone who watched game 7 this year and says that Gasol doesn’t have enough toughness wasn’t paying attention.

    Yes, a healthy Bynum combined with Gasol could be the all-time greatest PF/C combination. But you don’t want your GM to be building a roster on “could be’s”. You want him/her to build a roster on “likely to’s”.

  21. Bynum 4 Bosh? I have to assume there are other pieces – such as us picking up Calderon’s salary now that Jack is outplaying him.

    Stats don’t lie…and they are 100%, meaning its 100% of the players Bynum’s height (7’3″ and higher) suffers from nagging injuries once they begin. The dude is the biggest upside question mark in the entire league. He’s good for 24/12 and 4 blocks…but that’s only been for 20 games a season. The rest of the time he is healing.

    The Gasol and Bosh play the same position argument is hogwash. Bynum has no outside game. Bosh is a better rebounder than both Gasol and Bynum. Bosh lacks the true C post offense, but I see Gasol filling that gap more. Slide Gasol over to C, and play Bosh at PF. I love Bynum, but this is good for his career too (starting over where there are no other scoring options means he becomes an all-star.)

  22. A comment about this series. After game 3, Doc Rivers (who I think is an excellent coach and very classy person) sent tape to the NBA office regarding Derek Fisher’s defense and (what surprised me) was what he claimed were the Lakers’ moving screens. Now, that one really shocked me, did no one else see the blatant moving screens by the Celtics. Certainly I am biased, but wow, I had never seen such obvious bs. Garnett was called for one of them on the fastbreak, I believe in Game 7 after he ran the same identical moving screen in the low post on consecutive or near consecutive possessions. Boston is a very very dirty team and I’m glad the Lakers beat them for that reason alone. What do you all think Orlando again next year?

  23. The kid won my heart over giving it his all in the postseason with the injury (and doing quite well in limited minutes). Looking forward to seeing his continued development he has a bright future ahead of him.

    Can anyone tell me why the shirts being passed out at Staples in the Finals said “This is the one” on the front? I cant seem to figure it out?

  24. People who are 7′ and around 300lbs are going to have problems with their knees in a game like basketball. I think that should probably be a given. The question is, “Do teams need 7′ players weighing around 300lbs?”

    My contention is that championship teams need this type of player to handle the different types of styles found in the playoffs. Phoenix didn’t have this and look what happened to them.

    Some years the match-ups allow you to get through the playoffs without this beef, but not very often. I don’t think a team with continual championship aspirations – the Lakers – is wise to plot a future course by trading away one of the better big men in the game.

    Think about this problem strategically, not as an aspect of regular season play.

    Also, think in terms of the entire team and don’t just match up players. Thinking in terms of individual players is fools gold.

  25. Craig W,
    “Think about this problem strategically, not as an aspect of regular season play.”

    Absolutely. And one of the primary strategic considerations is availability in the playoffs.

  26. I have a question about those ready to throw over Bynum because of his many injuries.

    Do you think the Raptor front office is unaware of his difficulties? In other words, what makes you think they are so eager to have him?

  27. exhelodrvr,
    I do agree we may have to strategize how to use him in the regular season, i.e. keeping his minutes to 30 and keeping him in weight training as previously mentioned, but I do feel he is worth his weight in gold.

    Also, if we are determined to trade him, is Bosh the correct player to get back? Bosh is such a Gasol duplicate that I don’t feel he adds another dimension to our club. I would rather have two lesser players and their lesser salaries, but I still want one of them to be a banger because I feel we really have to have one of those on our club.

  28. 26) “Do you think the Raptor front office is unaware of his difficulties? In other words, what makes you think they are so eager to have him?”

    At this point, they probably aren’t, except that Bosh’s contract is up, so the assumption is that they would rather get something for him in a sign-and-trade (which would require his approval) than letting him walk and get nothing in return.

  29. Craig W,
    Remember, too, that Bynum is knock-kneed, with a wider than normal (for his size) pelvis, which means that he is genetically injury-prone. This isn’t just a case of him having had a run of bad luck that is likely to turn into a string of injury-free years.

    I haven’t tried in the “trade machine”, but financially, it would certainly make more sense to trade Bynum for 2-3 players, some of which would (I’m sure) be better from a basketball perspective, too. (It would sure make our job easier if we knew how much Buss is really willing to spend.)

    I would not be opposed to that.

  30. 26 R,
    The Raptors would take him in a sign and trade because they will get nothing for Bosh at all if he walks this summer.

    Craig W,
    Bosh is “like” Gasol, but he isn’t a complete duplicate. He has range out to the 3 point line. He has athleticism, quickness, power, where Gasol has maybe the best post game and skills of any big man in the league. If we absolutely have to have a banger then how did we win against Orlando and Howard? Also, we beat Phoenix pretty much without Bynum because we couldn’t play him against the screen roll that Phoenix was running.

    There will always be this dark cloud hanging over Bynum because of his injuries…

  31. Why has this become a trade thread about Bosh? I know this deal was “mentioned” as a possibility during the season, but I far as I know this deal has no legs at this point. This is a deal that makes sense to media and fans so it’s one that’s mentioned a lot, but besides that I see no smoke. So, while I understand the want to speculate, I’m shutting this down. We may dedicate a thread to this subject down the line (if the rumors persist – which seems likely) but just because this was rumored before and it’s now the off-season doesn’t mean we’re getting into a bunch of speculation that doesn’t have a lot to it right now.

  32. I think Bynum, with his career-risking injury performance with us in this postseason that ultimately led to a championship, deserves to be a Laker and free of trade scenarios.

    And really, we won two championships and got to the finals with pretty much the same players.

    Why fix something that isn’t broke?

    We do have some pieces we may want to look at, such as Farmar (who did contribute), Powell, DJ, and all, but all of our major pieces are worth keeping.

  33. Darius,
    You are right.

    We really should just be thinking about what Andrew added to our post-season run to the championship. I think this thread was well worth it and also our chances of beating Boston would have been less, were Andrew not available for the minutes he did play.

  34. #29/kenslc

    Dwight Howard is all arms. He ‘s top-heavy and has the legs of a chicken.

    Notice the difference between the way Howard and Perkins battle for position? All Howard does is slap and shove.

    Perkins on the other hand gets a low center of gravity and routinely moves Gasol out to 18 and 20 ft. He’s totally different from Howard. He has a strong base.

    Bynum played as many games as Pau did this season. I’ll take that as proof he strengthened his quad muscles enough to prevent the kind of serious injuries he suffered in the past.

  35. I think that Andrew finally had the epiphany that he really can impact a game by playing great D, contesting every shot, rebounding like a madman and just being a big presence out there that has to be dealt with.

    It’s what the coaching staff has been asking all along.

    And if he’s really smart, he should realize that he has just be given a glimpse of how he could impact a game well into his mid 30′s, when his explosiveness has left him.

  36. As much as I respect Bosh’s game, bringing him over to us would be a huge mistake for 1 Reason: Chemistry

    Bosh has stated recently that ‘I don’t want to be mentioned as an addition to a team …. I want to be mentioned as the guy that people want to center their team around …. I’m not an addition. I’m a centerpiece …. I’m not somebody that helps out …. I think every kid when they dream about playing basketball, they don’t dream about being a role player. They dream about being the man. I have that position in Toronto and to give that up and go somewhere else to be an addition would kinda defeat the purpose of my dreams.’

    Trust me when I tell you that I understand his position of wanting to be ‘The Man’, but we all know that this wouldn’t be possible on our roster, as currently constituted. With Big Drew, not only do we NOT have such issues, but I believe he’s matured to the point where he knows where he stands in the Pecking Order (as Kobe describes it). He Doesn’t mind being ‘A Role Player’, especially if his Role is a Pivotal part in us retaining our Belts. From the sounds of Bosh’s Remarks, it’s quite evident that the Last Place he needs to be, is in a Lakers Uniform.

  37. Tra

    Since Darius doesn’t want us to talk about trades anymore I won’t respond to half of your post, but as to what Bynum sees himself as? A broken down Bynum is one thing, but a fully healthy Bynum doesn’t see himself as just a role player. He wants his offensive touches and his points. When he got injured this changed a bit because he was fairly ineffective on the offensive end, for the most part. (with the notable exception of game 2 against the Celts) Look, if Bynum stays healthy then he is the best option for us going forward as long as he doesn’t get the ‘I want more’ disease.
    Problem is that I can’t see him staying healthy. To have 3 knee surgeries by the time you are 23 is scary.

    Again…we don’t win that series against the Celts without Bynum. The really scary thing is how close we came to that scenario. Do we really wanna have to go through that every year?

  38. Thanks, yes, I do understand the part about the Rapts “getting nothing” if Bosh leaves via free agency, but wait a minute, would they not pick up cap space?

    And couldn’t this cap space be used in ways other than picking up a certain injury prone center?

  39. I was really happy when we drafted Bynum. Is he injury prone? Is Perkins? Nobody knows who,when,and how long when it comes to injuries. I do think he has to wear support on both knees,if this will make him mentally comfortable.By playing with Pau allowing him to play more PF min,we are a much better team. He has good shooting form,and his FT% and 15-17ft shot should continue to get better.

  40. I believe AB is just now learning the game and the speed in which things happen. I’ve seen his reaction speed improving every year. He’s still slow, but he’s seeing things much earlier and in effect, able to do something about it. That only comes with many game reps. Movement without the ball is better, and his ability to work within the offense and not become the black hole is the improvement I think we all want to see. If he becomes a passer like Gasol – Tremendous upside. He is still learning ALL about the game.

  41. I feel especially loyal to Drew after this postseason run. Even with injuries, he fought through it and showed growth in his game and character.

    You could see he has developed in his play – he’s not the black hole he once was -passing out for reposts, looking for Pau. Even though his decision making needs work, he’s clearly shown a willingness and ability. You could tell at one point the coaching staff told him to attack more, as he wasn’t taking the one on one and being aggressive as he normally does. His physical game combined with Pau means that you can always take advantage of a mismatch in the post, which is a lot more threatening and easier to exploit than a speed mismatch where you have to get around the guy. The former you draw a double team or get a shot in the paint, the latter the defense gives up a jumper. aka what we did to Amare with the speed mismatch. The fact that we have these complementary roles (physical vs speed/passing) means we can mix and match against different styles, i.e. pho vs. bos series.

    You could see he has matured mentally. His comments about his injuries – “I’m a slow healer so I’m not going to take any chances” ; “I’m used to it, just got to play hard” etc. indicate a level of self awareness that is the mark of a more conscious and mentally tough player. I think two championship runs, even as a role player, make you a different player than even stars on teams that don’t make runs in the playoffs. There are little things that a champion needs to do and is mentally prepared to do, and Bynum has figured out how to fill that role. Whereas (for example) the likes of Mo Williams and Jamison were not able to bring that for whatever reasons in the postseason even though they were stars on their own teams before.

  42. I’ll be perfectly honest. There’s nothing here to really blow me away. I feel like Bynum finally is doing what he should be doing, sacrificing more of himself to earn the extremely large amount he is paid.

    That’s a good thing, but I feel like being surprised or heaping praise upon him is not an appropriate response.

    When completely healthy and given six weeks to get into rhythm (think January 2008 and 2009), Bynum is a force of nature. Upon injury his healing time is very slow and it takes him a great deal of time to get into rhythm after recovery. With his propensity for injury (and I do count accidents when people running into him his body because it is a common occurance and risk of being on court) I feel like it’s rare to get his best for any length of time.

    I also wonder if he will ever return to his January 2009 form or if that’s lost in youth, injury and that restrictive knee brace he now wears at all times.

    In the case of these playoffs I appreciate him returning to the court when he said, for the playoffs. Additionally, I appreciate him playing through pain, but seriously what else is he going to do?

    It causes me repeated, gut-wrenching pain each year to see AB be unable to contribute much to our playoff runs. This year his contribution was good until the Finals. But, I really felt he wasn’t needed that much until the Finals because the pace was wrong versus Utah and Phoenix and against OKC, we couldn’t get the ball to him anyway. And it’s not like he got back on defense fast enough to make Westbrook rethink attacking the rim.

    To be completely fair, most centers have injury issues.

    Even so, I feel that it might be wise to swap AB for someone that is worth more right now that has a better injury history.

    He’s shown flashes of brilliance and provides great basket defense along with Pau, but it’s a pipe dream to think we’ll get that Bynum 50% of a season or more. When the postseason comes, where will he be? I don’t know. And you don’t either.

  43. @36

    I saw that too and it also concerned me. I think Bosh is mostly hedging and trying to maintain value when he knows he needs another player that will probably be number 1. It would be the smart negotiating tactic and a good idea in case he does go back to Toronto, something he hasn’t ruled out.

    Bosh also said the Lakers would be a destination he’d like. Given that Kobe’s there, it’s a safe bet Bosh knows he woudln’t be option 1, or most famous player 1.

  44. Pau Gasol is usually at his best when playing power forward. At seven feet tall he is usually taller and longer than any other PF he is facing. Combine that with the diversity of his game and he truly thrives in that position. As a Center he is still an excellent player, but not at his best.

    Andrew allows Pau to play at his best. That is the main thing he brings to the table. His injury history is very concerning. You get the feeling that he will never play even 75 games in one regular season. Still I am not sold on the so-called alternative (I won’t use the “T” word, but you know what I mean).

    A front line of two finesse big men won’t get the job done. Add to that the fact our reserve big only likes showing up every 4th game and Drew’s value becomes clear.

    Even with his injury history I just don’t see a better alternative.

  45. Kenslc,
    Yes, we might have to fear for injuries each year (Shaq had some similar problems, kept himself in worse shape, and we seemed to do pretty well most of the time). I think that is the issue with NBA big men.

    The upside is that we did beat Boston. The upside is that we probably could beat anyone with Andrew fairly healthy. Yes, that’s the risk!

    No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. Keep Bynum, keep the injury risk, collect the reward in the year’s he is healthy at the end of the year.

  46. Well i think the courage and grit of Bynum to play injured was inspired by their Team Leader who is KOBE BRYANT. If bynum is playing on another team he would likely not play with such kind of injury. But being sorrounded by players who are also injured and are playing would encouraged one to suit up and also give it a go despite an injury. I guess if he is playing on a Lebron lead team then the decesion to play would be influenced on how the team leader responds to playing with injury.

  47. harold,
    “I think Bynum, with his career-risking injury performance with us in this postseason that ultimately led to a championship, deserves to be a Laker and free of trade scenarios.”

    That is absolutely the wrong approach for team management to take. They need to be cold-hearted when it comes to filling the roster.

  48. I praise Bynum for his efforts. But we do need some backup at the C, not a big name backup but a Darko Milicic type of backup. I’ve been all over the kid before and he’s a UFA this season, so any chances we get him?

  49. To the injury naysayers, I have to point out 2 things:

    1) Drew has spent a lot of time in the weight room and it shows

    2) since his season-ending injury in 08, he has played progressively more games both seasons.

    coincidence?

    no doubt, he’s injury prone (as are most guys his size) but he’s growing, and still years from reaching his physical peak.

  50. thisisweaksauce June 21, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I feel that Bynum helps us best defensively, much more so than Bosh could, I believe.

  51. As far as Bynum and his injuries go, we have to consider that when Bynum came into the league he was just 18 years old. How many 7′ 250+lb 18 year olds do you know? And as an 18 year old, his growth spurt must have been (relatively) recent, so even though it’s his body, he probably wasn’t accustomed to his new frame. Take that, throw in the grind of an NBA season (especially after playing very little high school ball) and a worn out body will be injury prone. I think it’s almost goes with the territory.

    Hopefully the weight training and NBA experience will continue to make him less prone to injury. And I also hope that his current/previous injuries don’t have too much of a lasting effect (hopefully none at all).

  52. ****edit to above****
    Andrew Bynum was 17 years, 8 months and 2 days old when he was drafted. (youngest ever)

  53. exhel, what I meant was that we shouldn’t be active dangling Bynum as trade bait.

    If you offered me LeBron for Bynum? Forget loyalty and toughness, forget our thin front line, I’m jumping on it.

    But I don’t want us asking Toronto about Bosh and dangling Bynum; we could ‘listen’ to their offer but all I’m saying is that he has shown enough loyalty to us to at least merit us not actively shopping him and looking to improve.

    Besides, if you don’t reward such risks that a player takes, who would take risks for the franchise? I think such display of loyalty is what builds a franchise. See where the Bulls are after they’ve handled the 2nd threepeat.

  54. I feel like all the pro-AB supporters are either overly optimistic or still wearing rose-colored glasses form the championship. I’m not advocating trading him (and not suggesting any potential trade scenarios) but come on – let’s be realistic. The guy has shot knees. He is virtually guaranteed to have a knee-related injury every year given that our team plays ~100 games every season.

    As exhelodrvr said, when it comes to running and managing a contender you keep feelings out of your decisions. This is a business first, and all players know it. But as fans, we do not know best. We’re not in the know to what is available on the market, and we do not have great insight into the league. Let’s trust Mitch Kupchak and his decision making – I’m sure his interests are quite similar to ours, so he will do what is right for our beloved team.

  55. back to the point of Jeff’s post:

    Bynum did an amazing job this post season. he always took the brunt of the tough centers, and took Perkins off of Gasol, allowing Gasol to be more aggressive.

    Any word on his surgery, what type it is, healing time, and when he would be ready for next season? I’m really concerned about Bynum being healthy for all of next season.

  56. @52

    After Bynum’s infuriatingly annoying agent did his histrionics related to Bynum’s new contract, I think Bynum can handle a little bit of trade talk.

    Don’t you think part of the reason he played hurt was because of said trade talk? He’s clearly been motivated by media hype over the years.

  57. The Bosh for Bynum thing sometimes baffles me, since Bosh also has had a nack for getting hurt. He has yet to play his second 80+ games season.

  58. 53. It’s a pretty routine trimming of the torn meniscus (cartilage). Since it’s a fairly small tear, only a little bit will likely be removed. Drew should be back to full strength within 8 to 12 weeks, and that’s taking into account his slow recovery time.

  59. 56.

    From what I remember of my meniscus damage it was harder to come back from than an ACL because you have to completely stay off of that knee for a longer period of time.

    Craig,
    Shaq never missed a post season for us like Bynum has. Shaq was never a shell of himself like Bynum has been. Not for the Lakers anyway. Just out of curiosity…does anyone think the Celts will be back to the finals next year or anytime soon? Should we be handcuffing ourselves trying to gear up just for the Celtics? It seems like Pau only has troubles with Perkins and the Celtics style of play. I think we win the championship with that other guy in our line up too. The important thing is just making sure that we have someone in the line up.

  60. The reason Bynum for Bosh makes sense is that the Lakers fortunes will no longer be constantly tied to his troublesome knees. If Bynum is healthy, the Lakers are unstoppable. If Bynum plays hurt, the Lakers are even with the best teams in the league. If Bynum is out, they’re short. Who wants to live with that year-in, year-out? Give me a quality big man who we can count on to be healthy for the play-offs every year.

    Heck – let’s take it from a different angle. How many years do you people really think Bynum has? 4 knee surgeries, already. Anybody who thinks the guy will be injury free for the next 10 years is delusional. Will he even make it to 30 as a starter? Or will he be forced into a back-up role being unable to play more than 20 minutes a game five/six years down the road? Does anybody want to take that risk for the long-term good of the franchise? Bosh gives you a better chance of having an annual all-star for the next eight years.

    MAKE THE TRADE HAPPEN

  61. Well, you know, at this point I think I’ll take the glass as half-full.
    If Bynum is healthy we beast.
    If he isn’t we still won/win it.
    If we ship him for Bosh it won’t be worse than an injured Bynum so we are still in position to win it. We may very well be taking the Ariza-Artest point of view on Bynum-Bosh.
    But whatever, the Lakers will be in great shape to 3-peat.

  62. ray,
    “Bynum did an amazing job this post season”

    Don’t let the fact that the Lakers won the title cause exaggerated views of our players capabilities. Bynum wasn’t amazing.

  63. RIP Manut Bol.

  64. 51,
    “I also hope that his current/previous injuries don’t have too much of a lasting effect (hopefully none at all).”

    This may be just me, but after watching video of Bynum during the 07′-08′ season, it is clear that his first knee injury in particular robbed him of some of his explosiveness/jumping ability. Upon his return in the 2009 season, he seemed to rely more on his improved post game and footwork in order to score, rather than raw athleticism. I attribute this change in playstyle to the fact that it was his left knee that recieved the dislocation/bone bruise, and as anyone who play basketball would know, you jump off the leg opposite your dominant side (Bynum is right-handed, thus he jumps off his left foot). Again, this is conjecture, but I simple cannot ignore how much more athletic Bynum seemed in his initial breakout year.

  65. My .02 on this:

    First, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I do not think it is wise to take Bosh’s “I need to be the man” stuff 100% literally, but I do think he will find a situation in Chicago, Miami, New York, Oklahoma City or possibly Dallas (Bosh is from Texas) that appeals to him more than coming here would. That may involve his teaming up with Wade or with James, or it may involve Bosh’s being a team’s key add. There are some guys
    –Shaq was one, Artest another–who really want to live in LA and to be Lakers. I doubt Bosh is in that group, and it is Bosh himself who will ultimately decide what happens. He is a UFA. Coming here to be third option on a team that has won back-to-back titles would be, IMO, ultimately less appealing to him than being Savior 1 or Savior 2 on a team looking to move up. Recall that Artest’s motivation in coming here in part was to “help Kobe face down Boston” and the fact that Artest arrived after Ariza had a big run on the 2009 champs made Artest’s ride rockier. Ultimately, of course, 2010 ended EXACTLY the way Artest probably envisioned/hoped it would, but it was a long road.

    Second, as everybody has noted, there are basketball reasons to see Bosh as a questionable add. His skills overlap to a degree with Odom’s and Gasol’s and he is not a true 5 on D. There are overlap problems with Gasol and Bynum as well, but not of the same type. Also, while Odom seems to have less ego than most NBA players of his skill level do (that is both good and bad for him as a player, I think) I do assume that one reason he likes his role on this team is that he although he is the 6th man, he is on the floor at crunch time. Bring in Bosh and that goes away, and maybe his minutes get cut. Bosh will also want a max contract for 6-7 years.

    All that said, I would probably do it if it is on the table. I agree that is possible Andrew will “grow into his body” and stay healthier in the future; it is also possible, that as with some big men, that it will just get worse and worse, either keeping him off the floor entirely (Yao, Walton) or severely limiting his explosiveness (Ewing). And, overthinking can be dangerous. Yes, there are issues with bringing in Bosh, but the guy is an extremely talented and productive player, a Top-15 player, and he is only 25 or 26. Look at it from the standpoint of the other team: would you enjoy game planning for an opponent that has Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, AND Chris Bosh, supported by Ron Artest and Lamar Odom? Me neither.

  66. Also, Kobe will be 32 and has A LOT of mileage. Pau will be 30 and has mileage. Same with Lamar and Ron. This team needs to win right now. Bosh might be a way to maximize the window.

  67. i think it would be a mistake to trade bynum away. yes, he has had a couple of injuries, but most of them were freak accidents. things like that happen.

    we know that he has the right approach to training, being a part of the team, and even playing through injuries.

    his contract is very reasonable for a player this young, long and skilled. he has great moves, great hands, great anticipation and leads our best defensive unit.

    it would be stupid to trade him away. bynum is happy to take 10-12 shots a game and anchor our defense. would bosh be happy to do that? another max contract to a guy who deserves to be “the man” and instead gets to play behind kobe and pau? thats not very smart…

  68. which is a bigger risk?

    1) breaking up a championship team’s chemistry and adding a 3rd max contract a year before the new CBA

    2) sticking with the same frontcourt that has won back to back titles

    I pick #2. Even with the injuries, he hasn’t missed the last 2 title runs, he’s still maturing physically, he’s content to defer to Kobe and Pau, only his first knee injury was of the non-contact type, and he brings defensive presence that wins titles.

  69. @ 68-

    To be clear about this, I like Andrew as much as anyone here, and like I said, I don’t see this happening. Like everyone else, I will always have a place in my fandom for ALL of the 2010 Lakers, from Bryant to Morrison. Beating Boston meant a lot to every Laker fan on the planet. Bynum was a big part of that.

    As to the off-season, I am simply hoping that the Lakers pick up help at PG and a functional BACK-UP for Andrew with the veterans’ minimum. They need a 5 Phil will actually use if/when Andrew gets hurt.

    But I agree with people who have said that the team needs to be cold-blooded, and Bryant/Gasol/Bosh would be a phenomenal concentration of talent. Chemistry matters, but we should not lose sight of the facts that:

    1. Perkins’ getting hurt made Andrew’s incapacitation more manageable in G6 and G7. And the Lakers easily could have lost Game 7.
    2. The Lakers are not a 68-14 superteam. They are simply a very good team. To stay at or near the top, they need to get better.

  70. 51.

    Your not only on this one, I still think Bynum hasn’t recovered from his very first NBA injury. In those first 20 games in 07-08 before he got hurt I was amazed how athletic and nimble he was for a big man, I thought the sky was the limit for him. Now I give Bynum credit, he’s obviously working on his game but after each injury he comes back bulkier and less nimble, and requiring more and more space to be effective. The fact is Bynum doesn’t trust his knee, and there is a good chance he never will.

    Bynum was a warrior no doubt but to build around a player who’s had 4 major knee injuries before his 23rd birthday doesn’t makes sense.

  71. Funky Chicken June 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I am simply astounded at the number of people here who continue to talk about trading Bynum, particularly those like exhelodr who feel competent to diagnose Andrew as forever injury-prone due to things like his pelvis. Are you kidding me?

    Andrew has suffered through a couple of knee injuries, which happened to be totally unrelated by the way (unless you think Kobe crashing into his knee at nearly full speed last year was “related” to the prior injury).

    In the end, this talk is all based on the injuries that Andrew has suffered through in the last few year. Well, you know who else is “injury prone” by that standard? Try Kobe Bryant. I mean, that guy can’t keep his SHOOTING HAND from getting injured, and you know he’s getting up there in age, so maybe we should trade HIM too while we’re at it….

    Apparently winning a title does nothing to cure the idiocy of Laker fans. Andrew guts it out all playoffs and shows the value of having a defensive presence in the middle, and he is immediately subject to trade talk. By contrast, Lamar Odom has perhaps the worst playoff run of any Laker “star” in recent memory (capped by a stellar 7 point, 7 board effort in 34 minutes of a deciding game 7) and everyone’s apparently cool with keeping him. Makes perfect sense to me. Not.

  72. @ 71,

    I don’t think anyone “wants” to trade Andrew Bynum, including Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, Ronnie Lester, and Phil Jackson. Everyone appreciates what AB17 did.

    But when there is talk about the possibility of getting a Top-15 player in his prime, you have to look at it. Bynum does, clearly, have enormous defensive value. But there is another side to it:

    1. The Lakers have been in the Finals three straight years. Bynum has been at 0%, ~50%, and ~40% for those runs. That is a pattern.
    2. They might well have lost Game 7. I hate thinking about it, and I am not directing that at you specifically, or anyone here per se, but I think for many, the whole attitude about Bynum and about the team would be different had that game been lost. The Lakers cannot make decisions based on the great affection that the fanbase et al have for this team.

    You are right when you suggest that no one knows what will happen with Bynum’s health going forward. And that’s the problem.

    The issue isn’t “trading Andrew Bynum.” The issue is, “maybe being able to get Chris Bosh.”

  73. Funky Chicken June 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    @72, perhaps there are those whose reluctance to trade Bynum stems from the Laker game 7 victory. For me, not so much. In fact, had they lost game 7 I would feel even more strongly about giving up one of the few legitimate centers in the league for a guy who plays power forward.

    Had the Lakers lost game 7, it would have been because they got physically manhandled (again) by Boston. For me, you don’t go “softer” when you have the choice to go tougher–which is why I was first in line to say “YES!” to last offseason’s “trade” of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest.

    Chris Bosh is like the girl you never dated but always dreamed of. Perfect. However, under the harsh lights, I’m not so sure what all the fuss is. The eastern conference was WEAK this year. Chris Bosh’s team didn’t make the playoffs. That’s no star. He is a nice player, for sure, but putting another finesse guy alongside Pau, who remains a finesse player despite a game 7 win, would spell trouble for the Lakers when matching up with physical teams.

    Moreover, how does Bosh fit in with the Lakers? If he were to come here, he’d be the 3rd option. Has he ever even been a 2nd option, much less a 3rd? I’m just saying that folks are so quick to assume certain unknowns (Bynum will be hurt every year, no matter what) but disregard others (whether Bosh even “fits” with the Lakers).

    The other side you pointed out actually speaks in favor of keeping Bynum in my mind. With a limited Andrew, the Lakers have clearly been the league’s best team the last 3 years. At 22 years of age, and following a season in which he demonstrated all the personal growth described in the original post above, the upside for Andrew and the Lakers in the next few years is simply amazing. He allows the Lakers to play any style at all (whereas Bosh would not), which more than anything is what allows the Lakers to stand apart from every other team. We can go big and fight teams like the Celtics and dominate smaller teams like Utah and the Suns, or we can insert Lamar and go smaller to run with more athletic teams if need be. Bosh is a great player, but trading for him would take away the flexibility that is the hallmark of this team.

    To press the “Greg Oden” alarm at this point seems far premature to me, and I think the team and fans would do better to enjoy the prospect of watching a young man make the transition from “kid” to “the man” over the next few years. We had the luxury of watching this evolution with Kobe (remember, there were many people advocating a trade of Kobe when he and Shaq had their differences), and now we’re blessed to have the opportunity to watch another great transformation. I’m just glad that Laker management has more sense than most bloggers….

  74. Funky-
    You know man…I kinda resent the way you’re coming after some of us “bloggers” that believe Bynum might be injury prone. He’s had 4 injuries in the last 5 seasons. IF you could promise me that he would be healthy and ready to go for 8 out of the next 10 years then I say lets roll with him, but you can’t. If Bynum couldn’t go at all this year against the Celts then we lose that series…Think about how close we were to losing game 7. It wasn’t because we were out muscled in that game. We hammered them on the boards and played great D. It all came down to a bunch of missed shots by RayRAy (Some of which were wide open) and finally the refs started calling fouls that they hadn’t been calling previously.

    I was one of the first people who was advocating Ron Artest over Trevor Ariza and I got treated the same way then that I am now. I like Bynum. I like his game. I’m starting to like his attitude. I don’t like his knees and I don’t like his chances of staying uninjured. How close was he to rupturing his achilles in that OKC series? It just seems like one thing after another. I’ve had knee injuries and I know what they do to your athleticism. The meniscus tear is the worst because it usually happens again and again. How long till his meniscus is gone and they start talking about the dreaded microfracture surgery?

    Anyway I respect and value your opinion Funky so please respect ours. I suspect if Bosh wants to come to LA (like reports say that he does) then he knows where he would be in the pecking order. I think he would fit in just fine here.
    Anyway…I hope Bynum remains healthy and plays another 10 years here with us, but I suspect it will be an injury filled 10 years and I would rather roll the dice with a proven guy in Bosh then to have to hold my breath anytime Drew goes up for a rebound in traffic.

  75. Someone said that with bynum having issues why would toronto want him. Is that a real Question??????? Bosh can sign with anyone. He wont resign with toronto. Toronto is going to suck big time and ticket sales will decline. If you can get a player like bynum for a guy that no matter what will not be on your team next year you make that trade happen. If bosh tells toronto he wants a sign and trade they will be happy even if they get a pair of kobes shoes in return. They could sell those because they wont be selling tickets.