Andrew Bynum begrudgingly signs autographs for heartless jerks in 2008 (Andrew D. Bernstein/ Getty).
The Los Angeles Lakers have not had a good summer, losing Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets and facing a difficult season that could very well end without a postseason berth. While many things went wrong for the franchise last season, Howard's decision to leave the most consistently successful team in NBA history seemed to hinge on two factors. In addition to disliking what he perceived to be head coach Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, Howard seemed to bristle at the demanding character of Lakers fans.
Another of the league's high-profiles has joined in that opinion. In an interview with FOX Sports after his introductory press conference, new Cleveland Cavaliers big man and former Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Andrew Bynum slighted Lakers' fans support while praising Cavs fans (via Beyond the Buzzer):
FOX Sports: It’s not LA, but it’s Cleveland, and the one thing we know about Cleveland is this city loves their sports. What do you know about the fans here?
"I just know that they're really, really passionate and I haven't had the opportunity to play for a city that is really just gonna stand up and really support the team. I'm super excited and I can't wait to see what it's like."
It's fairly clear that Bynum was attempting to praise Cleveland above all else, but the comments don't exactly speak to a positive opinion of Lakers fans, either. Assuming Bynum didn't forget that he played seven seasons in Los Angeles, we can take him to mean that Lakers fans did not support him through every bump in his career.
That's accurate, in a way — Lakers fans really do expect a lot from their team and players, both in terms of their willingness to sacrifice for the cause and measurable results. However, Bynum's exact words are perhaps a little inaccurate when it comes to characterizing their support for the franchise. Like the fans of pretty much any team in L.A., Lakers fans are known as a fairweather group that doesn't support its team when they're not a contender. However, due to their history of success, Lakers fans understandably set high expectations. It's arguable that this set of expectations isn't entirely fair, and that it sometimes manifests itself in a way that makes fans look a little spoiled, but it also very clearly comes from a place of serious, maybe even fanatical support for the franchise.
That sort of pressure isn't for everyone, and it's possible that Bynum will enjoy playing for the Cavs much more than he did for the Lakers. It would just be wrong to say that Lakers fans don't show the same level of commitment to their team.
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- Los Angeles Lakers
- Andrew Bynum