Andrew Bynum Got It Half Right

 
It has now been proven, in case doubt existed, that Andrew Bynum has a sense of humor complete with a comedian’s timing. Yes, besides the hair.

On the occasion of the Lakers playing in Philadelphia on Sunday in the reunion that really wasn’t, with Bynum out with knee troubles and yet to debut with his new team, the some-day 76ers center expressed appreciation at the benefits of having Kobe Bryant as a teammate for seven seasons in Los Angeles. Just before the appreciation disappeared.

“I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it’s hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously,” Bynum told a group of reporters before the Lakers’ 111-98 victory, as quoted by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth.”

Stunt his growth.

Cue the laugh track.

Of course having to defer to a superior or equal talent raises internal questions of how good a player could be as the clear one and only, the very emotional conflict a young Bryant went through with established Shaquille O’Neal, a Hall of Famer like Scottie Pippen had as the clear complementary piece to Michael Jordan and others have endured. (Karl Malone and John Stockton juggled it well because they were so reliant on each other, passing point guard and scoring power forward, and because Stockton cared not at all about attention.) Bryant conceded as much when asked to respond to Bynum’s comment after the 111-98 Lakers victory in Philly: “For sure, because when you’re playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something. Same thing with me and Shaq. You kind of offset each other to a certain extent. So, I mean, that’s true….”

The reality, though, is that Bryant didn’t stunt Bynum. He supported Bynum publicly more than anyone when there was good reason not to, he pushed Bynum, he led Bynum.

Held Bynum back? Held Bynum up is more like it.

Andrew Bynum had so many immature moments as a Laker, on the court and off, but Bryant kept coming to his defense, saying he saw a lot of himself in Bynum’s youthful insistence of always being right and that, most importantly, he saw a passion in Bynum to be great. It would have been a meaningful endorsement no matter what, demon worker Kobe praising the drive of another, but was especially valuable as Bynum strung together foolish decisions and injuries.

While he lived with sizeable scrutiny anyway, there would have been so much more public pressure on Bynum without the constant support of the face of the franchise. There is a good chance Bynum didn’t care, because he never seemed to worry much about opinions in the outside world, but Bryant’s backing undoubtedly made a difference in creating enough space for an immature center to develop into an All-Star.

The irony, of course, is that it was Bryant who screamed for Bynum to be traded years ago, when the Lakers might have been able to turn a prospect into Jason Kidd or another veteran star to help Bryant right then. Time passed, Bynum proved management right for keeping him, Bryant was won over, and then became one of the biggest backers as fans grew restless for more. That Bryant still played at a high level the last couple years despite age and injury, not allowing defenses to focus more on Bynum, is a primary reason for the development. Some growth stunting.

16 Comments

  1. Read This!!! says:

    Im so sick of people hatin on Bynum…why are reporters at NBA.com ALWAYS hatin on him? whats the issue, honestly.??
    a bad 3 pt shot? he went bowling?
    hes “immature”…well he did enter the league at like 17…jesus!!! give the guy a break

  2. [...] disappointed. Of course, Pau Gasol and the Laker's woes come to mind, as do the shocking …Andrew Bynum Got It Half RightNBA.com (blog)Upgraded Grades for the Top 25 NBA Stars This SeasonBleacher ReportAndrew Bynum: Kobe [...]

  3. [...] disappointed. Of course, Pau Gasol and the Laker's woes come to mind, as do the shocking …Andrew Bynum Got It Half RightNBA.com (blog)Upgraded Grades for the Top 25 NBA Stars This SeasonBleacher ReportLakers' future [...]

  4. Beast says:

    Bynum better avg like 25 & 15 .. He is talking like he is the best center of the decade lol

    He is just anther immature baby who thinks hes all that and conveniently forgets the he had KOBE on his team for 2 rings

    Bynum is a punk and he is putting pressure on him self and watch this dummy will get injured again as soon as he starts playing again

  5. B-Ball4Life says:

    Bynum wouldn´t be the player he is today without Kobe period. Accept that and I am not even a Kobe fan.
    Franchise player? We´ll see. I am very curious. Good luck. But please for God´s sake Andrew stop bowling

  6. rick says:

    wow! Bynum seriously believes he’s *that* good!? stick to bowling ya big clown

    • Read This!!! says:

      HOW DUMB ARE ALL OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      he played with possibly the BIGGEST ball hog of all time and still is in the convo of “BEST” center in the league. with 8 more shots a game he will be 25 & 12…..im sick of reading about haters and Bynum….this is my last comment in his defence..this is truely becoming insane

  7. Kobbie says:

    Yeah, it is pretty hard on a guy to have your game elevated by one of the few bonafide superstars in the league… Someone who basically dragged you kicking and screaming to multiple NBA Championships… Whose presence on the floor meant that you’ve rarely seen a double team.

    It is also really tough when regardless of how mediocre your personal game is, the fact that you have those Rings, and everyone keeps judging you on that past success, even though you continue to do everything in your power to show them how immature and childish you really are, and yet… They just keep giving you contracts based on success Kobe earned for you.

    Man, being on a team with that Mamba guy is just like poison for a “true” star’s career.

    BTW – Nuggets fan here… Not a huge Kobe supporter, but this Bynum kid is just plain douchey. He makes our McGee look like a physicist. Sooooo, I guess that is good.

  8. RR says:

    Seem like all of you working together always trying to post negative comments that anyone say about Kobe, and you hide any all negative comments said about lebron james you people need to stop all your negative posting and comments on Kobe. Growup! Get real! Stay Blessed!

  9. Hm says:

    “The reality, though, is that Bryant didn’t stunt Bynum. He supported Bynum publicly more than anyone when there was good reason not to, he pushed Bynum, he led Bynum.”

    Bynum indirectly mentions USG% and Kobe’s tendency to hog the ball and stifle an offence (led the league the past two seasons in USG%), keeping others from gaining valuable experience. Somehow this article ends up debating whether Kobe helped Bynum battle public scrutiny (considering Bynum holds Kobe responsible for some of said scrutiny, he ought to have helped him anyway) and how Bynum, the immature, should keep his mouth shut about Kobe, the supposedly mature narcissist who threw temper tantrums about being a “sidekick”. At least Andrew’s being reasonable about it.

    • Hm says:

      And somehow I always knew Bynum felt this way. I said it the minute there was talk of a Howard trade: “Finally, Andrew will get a chance to escape the Kobe Bryant “Lakers” basketball prison!”

  10. sixers fan says:

    wow hater hope andrew bynum comes back soon and dominates the east but the media is getting out of hand a article on bleacher report was that andrew wore slippers to a bar who cares let him
    live for gods sake

  11. Brad T says:

    Ha, Kwame Brown said the same thing about Michael Jordan — he stunted my growth, boo hoo he was tough on me and took attention away from me