Who is Andrew Bynum, anyway? We’ve met the petulant juvenile, shooting threes and flaunting his bullish uncaring for others with explosive rage. We’ve met the flashes of brilliance as well, the rebirth of the lost art of the low post center, the favorable future of a has-been franchise. But we really don’t know Andrew Bynum, because he’s played the role of kid brother for far too long now.
Last season, Bynum was 79th in usage rate in the NBA. 79th. He was tied with Carl Landry (And Steve Nash, interestingly). Yet he was still an All-Star starter, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Philadelphia, along with most other basketball pundits, assume Bynum’s stats will inflate even more given his new situation – the primary scorer, primary rebounder and primary focus. The champange is already out.
And for Bynum, all is hunky-dory.
“Sources close to Andrew Bynum say he is beyond thrilled about the situation in Philadelphia. He’ll get the chance to be his own star, be the focal point of the team and remain in the discussion as an All-Star starter.
Bynum is in the final year of his deal and, like all of the names on this list, is not signing a contract extension. The 76ers say they are OK with the risk, because they feel they acquired a marquee center that will stay long-term.”
The Sixers are looking good for next season, as we noted in Smack, and new is exciting. Evan Turner can finally step into the spotlight and Andrew Bynum can step out of Kobe‘s shadow. It’s not often that a player’s career pivots so sharply at age 24, but that’s what we have now. And that’s the beauty of basketball, that statistics are prejudiced – towards Bynum in this case, but completely ignoring the larger and more harrowing reality: will his teammates like him?
No teammate of Kobe Bryant probably ever likes him. That’s what reminds us of Michael Jordan in that too-good-to-ignore patriarchal kind of way. Some reporter will talk to Pau Gasol in 20 years, asking him to delve back into his 30-year-old psyche. “Kobe screamed at me too much, and instructed too much, and bulldozed my persona day in and day out,” he’ll probably say. But then he’ll shift to effusive praise, begrudingly accepting that Kobe did know things because Kobe was great. And it’s hard to attain that level of embittered respect, as it usually morphs into antagonistic back and forth prattling, each side vying to vindicate their own truth.
This is the decision that Andrew Bynum now faces, who will decide to be – and it will strain every fiber of his impetuous self. If he does spew that sanctimonious drivel and buy into his own self-adulation, we’ll remember this moment as the day a once-promising star fell from our babying clutches. But if he grabs a hold of himself and just plays some basketball in the right way with the right attitude, the results could be terrifying – in a good way.
Will Andrew Bynum succeed in Philly?
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