There’s a look in a player’s eyes that he gets when he knows that he’s the best on the floor. It’s a cool air of confidence. A quiet determination that requires little boasting or demonstrative gesturing. Only the occasional fist pump after a big 3 point play. A glare after securing a tough rebound.
Yet believing that you’re the best is no easy feat when you suit up nightly with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. When you’re matched up in the playoffs with possibly the best point guard in the NBA. But on Wednesday night, to the surprise of perhaps everyone but himself, Andrew Bynum had that look.
Let’s get this one straight. Without Andrew Bynum the Lakers lose the game and go down 0 – 2 in what could conceivably be one of the biggest first round meltdowns in NBA history. Thankfully, Andrew was exactly where he was needed.
When Pau Gasol decided to mail it in for the second consecutive game, Bynum was there to gobble defensive rebounds.
When the Lakers were struggling offensively, it was Bynum who delivered a step through drive, then a sweeping hook, then a face up jumper. Then another.
At one point in the third quarter the Lakers were running a 3 man game on the strong side. Shannon Brown lingered near the wing and Bynum waved at him furiously to cut through. Brown obliged then Lamar Odom dribbled out of the corner and fed big Drew the ball.
Bynum responded by making a strong move to the bucket, earning two free throws and drawing a key fourth foul on Emeka Okafor. It’s makes me wonder what would have happened had Bynum’s bone bruise not been as insignificant as it appears that it is.
Of course there will be many folks who openly question whether Andrew can keep this up. Whether it’s just a flash in the pan. Whether another injury will soon derail him. But I take glass half full view.
Bynum has never looked this good in the playoffs. Never been so dominant. It signifies that despite the fact that big Drew is seven feet tall and has ungodly length he’s still growing by leaps and bounds.
Maybe he hasn’t fulfilled his potential just yet but on Wednesday night he took the next step of the journey. For Lakers fans around the globe this is reason enough to rejoice.
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