COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Lakers have a long lineage of dominant centers in the history of the franchise, and in the wake of the Dwight Howard trade, it appears that Andrew Bynum won't have the chance to prove he belongs in the conversation.
"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."
Lakers' fans understand his point of view. It's the very reason they spent the offseason clamoring for the Lakers to pursue Howard and part ways with Bynum and his antics. Though his production in 2011-2012 was the best of his young career, the major question with the All-Star center has been his commitment, leadership, and whether or not he would remain engaged.
The challenges with Bynum were well documented. On numerous occasions, he admitted to withholding effort on defense, often alienated himself from teammates and coaches during timeouts, and took this ill-advised three-pointer on a whim against the Golden State Warriors.
The numbers were good last season -- Bynum posted career highs in points (18.7 points per game), rebounds (11.8 rebounds per game) and total efficiency (22.9 player efficiency rating). He was also selected for his first All-Star game.
But the behavior left something to be desired -- that's precisely what Abdul-Jabbar was speaking about when he made those comments. Talent and potential have never been in question with Bynum.
But determining whether or not he was worth the headache to coaches, teammates, and the front office is the only issue that needed resolution. The Lakers made their choice to part ways with Bynum and will live with the decision.
Fortunately, acquiring the top center in the league will all but eliminate any potential buyer's remorse. The relationship was beginning to strain amidst all of the rumors surrounding the Howard saga. Now, all involved parties, including Bynum, can move on.
One of the most interesting developments of the blockbuster trade will be to see how Bynum responds to the criticism from Abdul-Jabbar and others who feel the same way.
Will he develop into the leader that many doubt he can be? Will he take the final step towards maturity and behave himself for an entire 82 game season?
These questions will provide plenty of incentive for NBA fans to follow the 24-year-old's career in Philly.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com, and is the Editor and Founder of SportsOutWest.com. For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter.
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