Andrew Bynum: Running Out of Excuses, Patience & Time

Andrew Bynum: Running Out of Excuses, Patience & Time


I’m running out of excuses. I’m also running out of patience.

The latest chapter in the Andrew Bynum melodrama unfolded Friday night when he was ejected from the game against the Houston Rockets. Other than the obvious post-game headache for Mike Brown and the rest of the coaching staff, the ejection ended up being problematic for the Lakers on the court, as they desperately missed their second-leading scorer in a five-point loss.

So who’s to blame?

As I scanned the post-game comments and various opinions on Bynum’s apparent incessant need to cause problems, I’ve noticed my opinion on the situation begin to change. Many are claiming it’s simply immaturity that is behind Bynum’s recent string of bad decisions. I’m not so sure.

Andrew Bynum is 24 years-old. He’s no hardened veteran with three decades of life experience and 10-plus years in the league, but he’s not a newborn either. The immaturity excuse isn’t cutting it anymore. And, in reality, that’s because I don’t think Bynum is that immature of an individual. He’s had his moments, of course, but who among us hasn’t? Some of the more scrutinized instances in Bynum’s career, the cross-checking of Dallas’ J.J. Barea being the most apparent, are definite signs of a lack of maturity.

But that’s not what I see this season. That’s not what I take from this new batch of look-at-me moments that Bynum is splashing across the headlines. You see, I think Andrew Bynum is too smart for all that. I think that this isn’t a case of him not knowing what he’s doing, but the exact opposite entirely.

Andrew Bynum knows exactly what he’s doing.

His ejection on Friday night was more telling than any of the previous boneheaded decisions he’s made. Well, besides blowing off a meeting with the team’s general manager, but I don’t have the energy to delve into that bucket of brambles. Regardless, Bynum made a clear, conscious decision to continue acting out in the game against Houston. After picking up his first technical foul in the first half – on a play that wasn’t that flagrant, by the way, but still caused him to lash out like a spoiled child – he knew he had to tone it down a bit for the rest of the game so as to not pick up that second technical that carried an ejection with it.

He simply chose not to.

Bynum should know better than most players in this league exactly how this is done. He has been playing with the master of this technique his entire career. There isn’t a player in the league that knows what he can and cannot get away with after a technical foul better than Kobe Bryant. Every single season Bryant is one of the league leaders in technical fouls. But you know how often he gets ejected? Hardly ever. Now, some of you may say that this is because of Bryant’s status as an established star and that officials are going to be less likely to boot him from the game. That may be partially true, but that doesn’t change the fact that Bryant knows when to tone down the chirping.

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This is why Friday night’s ejection doesn’t strike me as Bynum’s lack of maturity as much as it does his commitment to defiance. To me it seems that Bynum believes he knows better than the rest – which is not-so-secret-code for his coaches – and is going to do whatever he wants because he thinks he’s earned this right. And, in a lot of ways, he has. But it’s not just his play on the court that has given him this entitled attitude. It’s the support of his teammates. Particularly Bryant.

We all know Kobe isn’t a sunshine and lollipops type of guy. He’s a cold, calculating competitor that would steal a man’s crutch if it would slow him down long enough to let Bryant slip by and score. And that’s why he’s been able to be one of the most successful players the league has ever seen. But throughout this continued power struggle between Bynum and the front office, Bryant has had Bynum’s back.

Now, Kobe is as untouchable as they come in the NBA. And everybody knows this.

Including Andrew Bynum.

So when Kobe Bryant says that he appreciates the ever-growing chip on Bynum’s shoulder, what is his incentive to curb the attitude? He’s guiltless by association. And he knows this. And that’s the problem. Bynum’s recent revolt has less to do with immaturity and more to do stubborn arrogance than anything else. He knows what most people want him to do. He knows what Mike Brown, Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the team brass want him to do. But he simply refuses to do it.

And why wouldn’t he?

The simple truth is that Andrew Bynum is well on his way to being the face of the biggest franchise in professional basketball. Other than fellow-malcontent center Dwight Howard, Bynum is the most talented center since the soon-to-be Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. And it’s not like this is some big mystery to him. He knows he’s holding the cards, and he knows that the majority of the chips are in his corner.

I’m not sure if this is just a matter of Bynum accepting that he needs to put the team above himself or not, but I do know that until he does this team will suffer. Bryant and the rest of his teammates can support him all they want, and in reality they should to some extent, but they need to pull him aside and let him know that his personal battle with the coaching staff and whatever it is he’s trying to prove is causing a 7-foot fissure in the middle of this franchise, and if they wait too long it’s going to be impossible to fix.

  • Baseballpavoice

    I think you are correct.  What Andrew Bynum does, and continues to do, are not his immaturity, but rather a testament as to his character, and the way he was rasied as a child.  After 7 years in the NBA, he can no longer use the “immaturity” excuse. He is what he is…an embarrassement to not only this organization, but to the NBA as a whole.  And to add further insult, he does his latest actions in front of the famed 1971-72 team that won 69 games set a record for all pro sports franchises with 33 consecutive wins.
    The worst part of the entire current state of this famed franchise, is that the owner has placed his son in a position of authority where he is as overmatched in his job description as is the head coach of the team.  Dr. Jerry Buss, who has done so much to ensure success through his decades of ownership, has turned the Lakers into a Titanic is search of an iceberg by giving the reins to his son.  The son who had no respect, even disdain for the coach who won 5 NBA championships for this team, and 6 more for the Chicago Bulls. The same son who hides behind his own general manager after telling him what to do, making the moves, or lack thereof, as if Mitch were calling the shots.
    I remember how Florida State dove out of the Top Twenty in NCAA football when Bobby Bowden named his own son Jeff the offensive coordinator after Mark Richt resigned to take the head coach position at Georgia.  At Penn State, even Joe Paterno placed his son Jay, in a position as quarterbacks coach, where he could advise, but not be the team’s offensive coordinator.  Blood is thicker than water, but it also clouds reality with emotion.
    I have followed this great franchise since my boyhood idol Jerry West, left West Virginia became a Laker while his college coach Fred Schaus became the team’s head coach. West to this day is one of the people I most admire in the world of sports, especially in light of his life at home while growing up.  I wonder what he, and his fellow mebers of that Championship team of 40 years ago must think…watching Mr. Bynum stain this franchise.
    I wonder what Jeff Buss must think, more or less giving away Lamar Odom, at the expense of any chance of acquiring Dwight Howard, with only Paul Gasol and Bynum left to deal; in essence giving up all three big men to get just one in return?  I wonder if he thinks he really hired the best coach available, or merely a lacky who would do as he’s told and not rock the boat with player requests?  I wonder if Jim Buss feels any of the heat from the fans who pay the salaries of this team? I wonder if Jim Buss is going to fire Mitch Kupchak for the mistakes he forced Mitch to make? I wonder how this will all turn out ???
    If we win the division, our immediate goal, what team can the Lakers beat in a best of seven series….Houston…Dallas…San Antonio…Oklahoma City…???
    And when the season ends, well short of another NBA title, will Andrew Bynum even care..or wonder what he could have done to make the team better ?  My guess is he will rationaize the entire scenario by stating ” I made the All-Star team…don’t blame be for the team’s failure” while depending even more money to reward his personal accomplishments.
    The front office has said it will handle Bynum’s behavior “internally”….what do think that will result in….suspending him, fining him….oh wait, we already tried that.  Sometimes the best addition is subtraction.  Maybe a team struggling to get better and to attract more fans will part with a hand full of draft picks to get Jim Buss off the hook ???  Oh wait, I forgot, Bynum is the player Buss has stated is “his guy….”    He could care less about us fans…Dad sais it’s okay !!!
    Would the Laker Nation dare stage a one-game boycott and stay away from Staples….it’s nice to dream…$$$ mean more that anything to the Buss family !!!   Show me a reason to follow this team like I have for the past 40 seasons !!!