Saturday, 6 August 2011
By way of Bynum
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
Against the Memphis Grizzlies, Andrew Bynum collides with teammate Lamar Odom and injures his left kneecap, forcing him out for the remainder of the season.
Against the Memphis Grizzlies once again, Andrew Bynum injures his right knee after team-mate Kobe Bryant landed on it, forcing him out for many vital months of the season.
During the playoffs Andrew Bynum plays every single game even with a torn meniscus, teammate Pau Gasol recognises Bynum's great sacrifice. The Los Angeles Lakers and their centre win their second NBA Championship in as many a season.
'Starting at Centre for the Los Angeles lakers, number 17, Andreeeeeeeeeeew Bynuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum'.
Picture the scene, imagine the game. The details? They don't matter, because he's here and back for good. Andrew Bynum is more then the Lakers centre, he's their centre of attention. The man in the post who delivers game after game like he was Karl Malone. Dobermans don't bark at this mailman however, they just bring him the ball, night after night as this 21st century, second generation Laker team guard their house like the champions they have been and will be again.
Over the past few years the Lakers haven't lived or died by Andrew Bynum and his injuries, but their development and their stronghold on the the association of National Basketball has rested on those awkward knees of their number 17. With Pau in the post and tall enough to go centre, plus 'Sixth Man of the Year' Lamar Odom being a true starter the Lakers can cope without 'Drew. Still however, with him their just a much stronger team. Take the last couple of games for example. The Lakers won without Bynum up front, but they can't go the long haul without him. That's why the Lakers are always worried en route to the postseason that without Bynum wearing a purple and gold jersey, the Lakers will end up missing out on wearing rings, just like when their number 17 ripped off his jersey after his team where knocked out by Dallas this season gone.
At least it was refreshing that when Andrew missed the last two games of last season it was due to suspension and not injury. After taking down Michael Beasley with a tough, flagrant foul, Bynum earned himself two games in a suit and tie but at least his jersey wasn't clothes lined this time. Still just like against Minnesota or that fatal Dallas game, Bynum needs to get formidable, not flagrant. Now take away the seriously bad Dallas series and despite the time he missed last year from his World Cup hangover Bynum was his healthy and best ever. Even if he has worse knees then Brandon Roy, the tough, more-than-just-dependable centre is a trailblazer ready to help take down Portland, Dallas, Oklahoma, San Antonio and whatever city from the Eastern part of the United States dares to stand in him and his teams way.
As long as Bynum doesn't go down on one knee, his reigning champion Lakers look engaged with Larry O'Brien, resulting in a matrimony of contention despite the fact they forget their three year anniversary of championship marriage last season. The Lakers obviously have more fire power then the 7 feet, 285 Bynum, but this former number 10 draft pick looks like the number one reason the Lakers could run towards another championship in a breeze. In around half a decade Bynum has turned potential into promise and promise into prominence. Plus at 23, this kid still has a decade-plus left to realise his prime...so long as his knees don't cap his time on the pine.
Right now the Lakers have a complete team of top-tier talent. From Kobe, to Pau, to Lamar, to Ron, to Derek, to the bench and of course Andrew. Inside and out, offence to defence the Lakers can keep up with anybody. They have all the elements and of course they need them with the fire of 'Bron and all his superfriends and the ice of 'Melo and his new pals. Not to mention rivals Dallas, San Antonio and Boston, and former final foes Orlando. The NBA title is wide open this year as the top teams narrow themselves from the rest of the league by getting greater in talent. The Lakers may rest on Bryant, but just like they need Gasol's versatility, Odom's substitution, Ron's defence, Fisher's clutch and the benches spark they need Andrew Bynum's inside knowledge to boot.
With his ability to dish, dunk, post up and hook, 'Drew's got all the offence skills to draw more then a double-team and open up the floor. With his handles too, Andrew crashes the boards, helping the Lakers dominate possessions. This really is why the centre is the biggest player on the floor. Sure this team is still Kobe's and then Pau's, but a lot of the Lakers plays-on both ends of the floor-go through 'Drew. Bynum's averaged of 11.5 points and 9 rebounds don't do what he does on the floor justice. He can drop plenty of 20 and 10's on any given Sunday, Monday or Tuesday like his name was Kevin Love, making his games a double, like fans ordering beers in the stands. His career highs of 42 points and twice-over 18 rebounds more then make up the type of player he could become. Also with an average of 5.8 defensive rebounds if he improves that 3.2 offensive line who knows what else he can draw out. While his box-score, statistical averages of 1 assist and 2 blocks really show the potential he has on affecting other areas of the game. Especially as his health improves and his 27.2 minute a game average is boosted to that of the numbers of a franchise player. A franchise player that he's about to become.
Right now Bynum and his tall-tandem with Gasol helps the Lakers keep up with the Nowitzki's, Duncan's, Griffin's and Perkins out West and the Bosh's, Stoudemire's and Garnett's of the rest of the contenders, but who knows just how much Andrew could dominate players like this in years time, on his own. Lakers fans will have to admit-that even though it won't be for awhile yet-Kobe will, one day retire and other stars production and prime will decline. Still, through all this Andrew Bynum won't get much older, but he will get significantly better. Sure he's not ready to put up Wilt numbers but even with the way he's playing right now Bynum could go down in history as one of the greatest Laker big men of all-time and there's been a lot of them. Kareem has even brought the Magic out this young centre tutoring 'Drew, helping this young mans potential scrape the sky like the rest of the bigs. Jabbar even gave 'Drew a nice baby-hook with Cap's playing mindset to match.
This youngest player ever in the NBA has overcame Jermaine and is the next big thing to O'Neal...Shaquille that is. He even withstood a Shaq attack, by coming back with his own elbow in his 'fro riding rookie season. You know the only man that eased the Lakers pains and worries of losing O'Neal was Andrew. Bynum isn't just a welcome relief for the Lakers from the years of Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm (no offence to their talents and services) he's one of the few, true centres left in a league where this position has become a dying breed since the late 90's. Still, even with the development of more centrally minded guys Bynum has freshened up his raw talent. Even if all of the 30 teams in the league had centre's who more resembled Greg Oden's (talking about knees) then Luc Longley's, Bynum would still be among the best, making more centres gravitate towards the power forward position then they do now. Bottom line this top big man could be one of the best in the league-if not all-time-when his career is done...period.
Forget Dwight Howard for a second, right now the Lakers future rests on Bynum's knees and just like him they are getting better. You can't trade potential, or future. Besides Bynum's this good right now, he should be an All-Star, he should be so much more, like he really is as a player. Still, it's easy for a quiet, well-mannered guy like Bynum to be lost in the galaxy of stars out in L.A. See it goes beyond the Kobe's, Spanish, reality and hip-hop stars and the players wives sitting courtside. There's also a throng of music, movie and other sports stars that lace the STAPLES Centre night after night, from Jack Nicholson to Justin Bieber. Still they all see Bynum and what they look at is more then just a star in the making. They look at the man that's going to take this Lake Shows legacy to new heights even when number 8 or number 24 is raised to the rafters with the greats.
Right now too Bynum is the difference maker between contention and condolence. Just think years ago the Lakers almost 'shipped him out' for a point guard. Trade him these days? You must be kidding! Despite his Dallas team ringing the championship changes, there will be no Jason for this Argonaut. Argonaut in the sense that he touches everything-from rebounds to points-like had had the arms of an Octopus, inking championships and tattooing his legend. As the Lakers clash with the titans they need their front-court God, their saviour. The man who will help engrave the latest and next chapter of Laker legacy in stone with yet another 'chip now he's back on the block.