Sunday, April 1, 2012

Andrew Bynum vs Basketball Gods (3.27.12)

The basketball gods are not happy with Andrew Bynum.

Following some rather strange behavior this past week, Bynum suffered an ankle sprain in the first quarter against the Golden State Warriors as he landed on the foot of Josh McRoberts while going for a rebound. The play was a run of the mill basketball play. Usually the guy goes up and comes down just fine, but the basketball gods decided to punish Andrew Bynum.

We all know about Bynum's rather infamous three point attempt against the Warriors less than a week ago, but now there is even more fuel to add to the fire. Following that game, Bynum childishly stated, "I don't know what was bench worthy about the shot, to be honest with you. I made one (against Memphis) and I wanted to make another one." Bynum disconnected with his teammates and coach during that shot, and he stayed disconnected for the rest of the night. Bynum sat glued to the bench for the rest of the game, including during timeouts, as he failed to huddle with his teammates or offer some insight to his backups. Bynum pretty much seemed like he could care less if the Lakers won or loss. However, Drew seemed to buck the trend with solid efforts against the Thunder and the Hornets. His contributions cannot be overlooked in those games, and it was clear that Drew made sure that his effort would not be questioned. So why are the basketball gods upset with Bynum? I'm not sure if it was mentioned during the Thunder or Hornets game, but it was mentioned tonight against the Warriors, and followed up with visual evidence.

For some reason, Bynum did not join his teammates to participate in the warmups and layup line tonight. Instead, Drew had some headphones on and he rocked back and forth in the Lakers hallway tunnel that leads to the court. This disconnect is troubling. Why in the hell is Andrew Bynum not out there shooting some shots and moving with a basketball? The video shows Bynum running a couple of steps in opposite directions as well as rocking his body to some music. I understand that Staples Center does not provide the best jams to warm up to (unlike most NBA teams, the Lakers do not blast top of the chart hits during these pregame moments); however, this is still not a valid excuse for Bynum to be alone and not on the court getting his mind and body prepared for the upcoming tipoff. There are only a couple of valid excuses for someone to miss warmups: the player may be getting worked on by the trainer, whether it is an extra tape job or some last minute stretching, the player may be feeling ill and just wants to get his act together by downing some extra fluids or eating a little snack for some extra energy, or the player is straight up taking a dump. Other than these three things, what other excuse is there? With each of these excuses, the player would still be in the locker room. It bears worth repeating, Andrew Bynum decided to do his own warmup in the tunnel. Baffling. Norm Nixon somewhat stuck up for Drew stating, "It's ok for a guy to have his own pregame ritual," but Norm followed up that statement with, "but there are certain points and times when you have to get rid of that and join your team out on the court [...] you want your guys to come out and be a team out on the floor when you are warming up for the game."

I have attended a few Laker games during the Bynum era. I have never seen this before. My last game was this season, almost six weeks ago, and Bynum was definitely out there with the rest of the guys. Maybe Bynum has created a new routine in this time period, but I highly doubt it. So what is going on here? Is Bynum still upset with Mike Brown? Is Bynum trying to stick it to Lakers management for some reason? Is Bynum pissed that Kobe just keeps on shooting? Whatever it is, it needs to stop. In fact, the basketball gods just made it stop. Andrew Bynum twisted his ankle by landing on his own teammate's foot while going for a rebound with 1:49 left in the first quarter. This is a fairly routine way to sprain an ankle. I'm actually surprised that it doesn't happen more often. However, Bynum's pregame antics, along with his lazy play, once again, seemed to all catch up to him during this moment. Bynum did not come out and play hard tonight. Bynum was definitely on track for another questionable performance due to lack of effort. Bynum was clearly jogging down the court on multiple possessions and he gave up a few offensive rebounds because he couldn't put a body on 6'8" David Lee. Bynum had some boards go right off his hands and he just seemed a bit sluggish. Simply put, Bynum was not all there.

All there. Key words. Andrew Bynum's mind has seemed to take some vacations this year. For someone who has missed so much time due to injury, you would think that Andrew Bynum would value every single second he has on a basketball court. Instead, Drew seems to have a bit of the young superstar complex. He was embarrassed by Mike Brown and he has chosen some childish ways to get back at the coach. Young superstars often feel that they are bigger than the team, and they usually are. A young superstar can get his coach and general manager fired. A young superstar can call the shots and everyone will bend over backwards to kiss his ass. But the biggest difference separating Drew from other young superstars is that Drew is on a good team that has a shot to win the title this year. Young superstars often waste away for a couple years on crappy teams. Andrew Bynum is flanked by two of the best players at their position. Bynum's flirtation with the young superstar complex may cost Kobe, Pau, and the Lakers a ring this year. For the Lakers' sake, I sure hope Andrew Bynum gets healthy, both physically and mentally. Without Bynum, this team is going nowhere. As with most teams featuring young superstars, the team suffers when they decide to become bigger than the game. However, these breakdowns usually occur as the team meddles in mediocrity, not on a team that is trying to make it to its fourth championship series in five years.

Maybe these strange acts can be attributed to mental fatigue. Such a compressed schedule is sure to make life living hell for these players. 66 games in 124 days. That is the NBA schedule due to the lockout. Andrew Bynum has never played so much basketball in his life. Maybe this is all just a learning curve. Whatever it is, the basketball gods are giving Andrew some rest. Maybe this ankle injury will be a blessing in disguise.


  1. As a Laker fan and also a Andrew Bynum fan, im a little concerned but not worried. My boy will be back to his usual self.

  2. Bynum sure did respond in that Clipper game, impressive.