HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — There was a celebration in downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, as new Sixers Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson were introduced at Philly’s National Constitution Center. The news conference was open to the public, and Philly fans made it clear that they’re happy with the acquisition of the team’s new franchise player.
More important, Bynum made it clear that he’s happy with the deal, and hinted that he’ll look to stay in Philly when he becomes a free agent next summer.
“To be honest,” Bynum said, “my first experience here is so great, I’m really leaning toward making it my home.”
But while Philadelphia was celebrating the arrival of Bynum, Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was taking a shot at his former pupil. In speaking with the Los Angeles Times‘ Mark Medina, Abdul-Jabbar compares Bynum to new Lakers center Dwight Howard, and finds Howard to be more “committed.”
“Dwight is very committed to playing and winning,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Andrew has been up and down on that issue. There are times he wants to play, do a great job and he goes out and does it. Then there are other times where it seems like he’s not focused.”
Bynum was benched during a game last season for launching an ill-advised three-pointer and was fined by the team for his conduct. He was also ejected from two games in a two-week span and he sometimes acknowledged lacking effort. Those incidents soured an otherwise breakout season. Bynum posted career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8) and made his first All-Star team.
Abdul-Jabbar said he saw Bynum’s focus wane when he worked with him from 2005 to 2009. He said his coaching duties were significantly scaled back in the 2008-09 season after Bynum expressed a lack of interest to the Lakers’ staff in working with Abdul-Jabbar.
“When I first started working with him, he was eager to learn,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He appreciated me shortening the learning curve. Once he figured he did everything he wanted to do in terms of learning, he didn’t want me to bother him constantly going over the fundamentals.”
You obviously have to respect Kareem’s opinion, and it was clear that Bynum didn’t have much respect for Lakers coach Mike Brown last season.
The 24-year-old Bynum gets a fresh start with a new team. Although he won’t be in the L.A. spotlight anymore, he’s got a whole franchise leaning him now. And the Sixers need him committed to more than just sticking around long term.