Ball Don't Lie

Andrew Bynum needs to grow up

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar never needed a towel at your age, Andrew Bynum (Getty Images)

We can point to the relative luxury of being drafted into a team featuring Phil Jackson as its coach and Kobe Bryant as its residing superstar. We can point to the Los Angeles lifestyle as somewhat warping (shock horror), or the fact that Lakers All-Star Andrew Bynum was one of the last to jump from an American high school straight to the NBA. Whatever the influence, at this point we can all agree that Andrew Bynum has been a bit of a brat throughout his NBA career.

That's the nicest way of putting it, partially helped by the fact that we can't use blue words here at Ball Don't Lie. There are reasons why Bynum can be somewhat absolved for acting like a jerk on the court — Kobe Bryant can be a selfish gunner who betrays his significant basketball smarts because he treats every possession as some legacy-defining highlight hope; and Mike Brown is a pretty poor in-game coach — but there's no getting around the fact that nearly seven years after being drafted, Andrew Bynum is still acting as petulant and careless as the high schooler we were introduced to during the 2005 NBA draft. And last weekend's snotty comment about Lakers coach Mike Brown's huddles reinforced that image. From The Los Angeles Times, as initially found by Matt Moore at Pro Basketball Talk:

"I don't know," Bynum said with his characteristic cavalier attitude. "I don't take part in the huddles."

Another reporter reacted with disbelief, asking why not.

"I'm resting," Bynum said. "Getting my Zen on."

Watch any NBA game, go to any NBA back and forth, and you'll usually see only the five players who are due to enter the game following the dead ball situation taking part in the huddle. There are cheerleaders to look at, team personnel to chat with and scoreboard gimmicks to behold. That said, Bynum's usually in those five-man groups. And, that said, let's say this: Don't say that, Andrew Bynum. You churlish, pampered, brat.

This goes beyond becoming a millionaire a few months after high school ends, a few months after an embarrassing MySpace profile (an expectation of every member of the high school class of 2005, I submit) of yours becomes public knowledge. This also goes beyond being drawn into the relative luxury of learning with (if not under) Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant. Part of this has to do — and this refrain will no doubt come as no surprise to BDL's readership — the Laker ownership.

Andrew Bynum is Jim Buss' favorite player. Jim Buss is the son of the team's owner (I'm sure he has some other basketball-related title that I could pull up on the PDF file of the Lakers' media guide; but I won't insult you with such an exacting kiss off), and Bynum is clearing feeling his oats as the team's most cherished player.

He probably doesn't see Mike Brown lasting long. He's aware of the fact that Kobe Bryant was drafted into the NBA when Bynum was in third grade, and that KB's wheels won't spin forever. Andrew dealt with all the Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard machinations without a real fear that he would be sent elsewhere. He's the rock, to hear his brain tell it, he's not going anywhere, and he's unhappy. And when the unmovable force is unhappy, he tosses out nonsense like this.

Because my wrists are tired from laying into Bynum, I'll let Matt Moore take over from here:

Bynum is a child. He's still a child, he's been one for the entirety of his career. From the three-pointers, to the approach to rehab from injuries, to huddles and flagrant fouls, he continues to show a lack of maturity. Great player, second-best center in the league. But there's something to be said for professionalism. When the Lakers turn to Bynum in a few years as the franchise player, what's going to be the result without Kobe Bryant's firm hand or Pau Gasol's professionalism? Bynum doesn't like Brown? Fine. Most reporters and fans don't either. Kobe Bryant clearly isn't thrilled, either.

But he should be in the huddles, he should be engaged, he should be putting up a front for the media. The Lakers need everyone to circle the wagons. Whether he likes Brown or not, he needs to protect him as a part of his job, not throw him under the bus.

As you'll no doubt recall, this goes beyond smirking postgame. Jose Juan Barea's career flashed before his eyes last spring. More significant to the common good, Bynum shows little regard for those he deems beneath him while driving — and it's clear that just about everyone that isn't named "Andrew Bynum" is relegated to "beneath him" status. This includes driving on the wrong side of the road to pass a guy.

This involves parking in handicapped spots. These are things that parents are supposed to disabuse their children of even considering well before they're even legal to declare for the NBA draft, and yet Andrew Bynum was pulling this [nonsense] a few months before he turned 24.

I don't agree with Matt Moore's send-off to the Lakers, about how he hopes "the dunks are worth it." This isn't Javale McGee. This isn't even Blake Griffin, and in a way this isn't Dwight Howard. Bynum has contributed, significantly, every time he's been on the floor for years. Not just dunkin' around. Typically in a Laker offense that, I'm sorry, sees Kobe Bryant dominating the ball, and often after Pau Gasol gets his taste. The resentment can build, and yet Bynum still puts up the numbers at no expense to his team. Smarter Laker fans, sick of Kobe trying to shoot his way back into games, wish he had more and more chances to put up those numbers.

And, as Matt pointed out, Brown doesn't have much respect league-wise as a head coach. As a basketball brain, sure. Perhaps the finest potential assistant in the NBA? Possibly. The combined Leader of Men and Maker of Final Decisions? No way. I like and respect Mike Brown, but just three months into his second chance, we've already dismissed him.

Doesn't matter. It doesn't mean you chuck 3s, and it doesn't mean you sit out huddles. It certainly doesn't mean you attempt your own brand of winking, Phil Jackson-styled humor on media members that see right through you. If your influence on the Laker front office is so profound, you work with Kobe to find a new head coach sometime in July; even if it comes after you collect your third championship ring.

Andrew Bynum was drafted into the NBA just a few months after George W. Bush was sworn into his second term as President. Nobody knew what YouTube was, and Robert Horry was still playing a significant role on championship teams. To put it in high schooler-ese, it was a long-ass time ago. Bynum is nearer to his 10-year reunion than he is the night he was drafted. Go pluck a gray hair, big man.

While injured, Andrew Bynum was a statue with limitations. Now healthy, he's clearly worn out his welcome with this garbage. Even amongst the most ardent admirers of his game.  Look at me, sounding like a father: I'm not mad, Andrew. I'm disappointed.

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