Making the all-star team is quite an honor. It may not be the same as making an all-NBA team (a distinction that shows a player is one of the best 15 or so players in the league), but making the mid-season classic is something to be proud of nonetheless. As Lakers fans, we’ve become quite used to seeing one (or more) of our guys suit up for the west squad. Kobe’s made the team 14 consecutive years as a starter. Way back in 1998 he made his first appearance and has been a mainstay ever since. For him, it’s become as much of a right as a privilege with fans voting him in for the better part of a decade and a half. This, though, isn’t the norm. Some players live on the cusp of making this team but never do.
I bring all this up because while we celebrate Kobe and his accomplishments it’s kind of easy to forget that another Laker was voted into the west’s starting lineup this year. Andrew Bynum is making his debut as the Center of choice later today and for him, it’s been a long time coming.
Long considered one of the up and coming big men in the league, the only thing that’s held big Drew back are injuries. Back in his break out year of 2008, Bynum was a surefire candidate to make this team before that horrid January night in Memphis that ended his season. The next year, the acquisition of Pau Gasol and another injury kept him from consideration. Last year his longer than anticipated recovery from off-season knee surgery kept him out of too many games and rustiness upon his return kept this honor out of his grasp.
Basically, Bynum has been the all-star big man that wasn’t an all-star. Everyone knew of his potential to reach this game and his production when healthy would have warranted a selection in several other seasons. The fact that it had not happened until this year was surely frustrating for him but also (likely) served as motivation for him to play well and stay healthy enough to show his worth.
Today, though, the goal will be reached. Bynum will jump tip against Dwight Howard in a game that features the guys the fans want to see flash their skills and the coaches believe to be the best players in the game. Today, the talk of Bynum being “an all-star caliber big man” goes from being a comment about what he could be to what he actually is. And for that, Lakers fans should be proud. Proud for Drew reaching his goal, but also for the fact that once again the Lakers have a young and up and coming behemoth manning the pivot for the team that represents the best the western conference has to offer.
And while this may be the first all-star game Drew plays in, it certainly won’t be the last. Because even though the age of the back to the basket big man is nearing its end, Bynum’s power game endures and will have staying power. Most of today’s bigs may flash games that stretch to 20 feet with face up moves off the dribble replacing the power back downs of a generation ago, but Bynum’s throwback style remains as effective today as it would have been in any other era. And with that style, he too should be a mainstay in this game (even if not at the same frequency of his more celebrated Laker teammate).
So, take some time to appreciate how far Bynum has come. Seven years ago he was a pudgy out of high school kid that the Lakers’ brass took a chance on. The foundation of tools was there but needed molding before reaching this level. After countless hours of hard work and fighting through setbacks, he’s finally here. And, likely, here to stay.
Kobe or Drew shouldn’t play more than ten minutes. Kobe seems to want to sit this one out and Bynum had a ice pack on his knee yesterday. Drew just wanted some all star recognition.
rr: I will respond to you directly, however, you must realize that I have now become a centrist on this board. There are quite a few (including mods) that are suggesting re-build. I am willing to try your plan – as a back up to mine of course : )
Kevin: I love it – always protecting the team. You don’t like trades or the ASG.
And there you have it folks – the three new board factions summarized in the first three posts:
Optimists (Ex: Kevin – always hopeful)
Centrists: (Ex: Robert – hoping by a thread but very worried).
Pessimists: (Ex: Garv – we are doomed)
Robert: right team comes first. ASG is the best all star event in sports. I do think Lakers make trades too many high salaries too many rumors. LA pieces lose trade value in summer espicially with another early exit. Now’s the time
I think Kobe will play about 30 minutes, and will try to break Jordan’s record. I do think Drew will only play about 15. I see Howard getting a lot of cookies and the other guys trying to help him get MVP.
Kobe needs to try to get the MVP so D12 will not. If D12 gets it, I will dread the post game interview where everyone in the stadium begs Howard to stay. Gag !!!!!!
That will happen whether Howard scores 2 points or 22. But the “hometown” guy often gets ASG MVP.
I don’t say much controversial stuff on here… But here is something I beleieve that most smart basketball people don’t… The All Star Game is a great way to see who is a good player and who is a great player. For instance… When Gasol has played in these games you could tell he wasn’t the same player as a Bosh, KG, Dirk, Duncan. Some of those guys he is known to be better than. But when the best players are on the floor do you look better than them (Howard/LeBron) as good as them (Rondo/Bosh) or worse than them (Gasol/Hibburt). Those are obvious examples. But it will be interesting to see if Bynum looks like he belongs on the floor with the most dominant players in the world. it not only shows ability but mindset. When Kobe first stepped on the all star floor he went right at Jordan. He lost… But he went out swinging. Tonight… Will Bynum attack Dwight or will he take a step back and resign himself to all star role player status. Those two things will show us where Andrew is and probably where he will be in the future. All Star Games aren’t the meaningless exhibition some think they are. It’s a stage for the best players to prove to themselves, their peers, and the world where they belong amongst the worlds best. I remember the 2003 all star game. At this point Kobe was considered to be on the same level as TMac and Vince Carter. When the game got close in the fourth quarter and both teams were playing hard… The wests best handed the ball to Kobe everytime down the floor. It’s was Kobe’s peers saying “hey… You’re the best player on our team. ” Kobe didn’t win the MVP but I think it was Fertello during the game who said Kobe is the guy who seems to be the best player on a floor filled with the best players in the world.
Pau goes on Twitter to give ups to his Bro:
paugasol Pau Gasol
Tonight I’ll be watching the @NBAAllStar with the stellar play of @MarcGasol ! Can’t wait to watch him play with my teammates Kobe & Andrew
Interesting – hope we get to see Marc, Kobe, and Bynum on the floor together (though doubtful since they’re true 5’s) – it’s a glimpse of what could have happened if the Pau trade hadn’t gone through.
The dunk contest last night was pretty disappointing. With that said, Evans’ second dunk was truly incredible. Williams’ second dunk was also amazing, a dunk that Griffin couldn’t pull off last year. Paul George’s glow-in-the-dark idea was stupid. Nice dunk, but you could barely see him do it.
Ironic, but the Skills competition has become the most star-studded competition of Saturday night if you think about it. Too bad most of them act too cool to do the event.
Snowmass Dave says
Dwight Howard is a superior defensive player than Gasol and Bynum combined. Look at the stats. Gasol is a good player. Bynum is a good player. Howard is a great player, despite what some on this board say. He consistently averages high rebounds and blocks. And he will continue to refine his offensive game. He is the man we can build a team around, with our without Kobe (who’s shooting percentage drops as his age goes up). Let’s get Superman!
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.