Everyone made a big deal out of Kobe Bryant being “benched” a few games ago during crunch time. That wasn’t really a benching.
What happened with Andrew Bynum Tuesday night, that was a benching. And because Bynum acted like a three year old told he couldn’t have another lollipop, this issue could linger.
It all began two minutes into the third quarter. The Lakers grabbed the ball off a Warriors miss and pushed it up court, but when nothing developed they reset the offense and Bynum came down court to join the play. When he did he got a pass out near the top of the arc and…
Bynum stepped into and took a three. Which he missed to the right. Not that it mattered, the ball probably wasn’t to the rim before coach Mike Brown had called Josh McRobert’s number and told him to check in. Bynum only played a couple of minutes the rest of the way.
The bigger issue was Bynum’s immaturity when benched — he joked and laughed about the shot, refused to join team huddles or high-five teammates coming into timeouts, and generally just sulked. Then there were his post-game comments. Via Kevin Ding of the OC Register.
“I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot, to be honest with you,” Bynum said. “I made one (with 1.2 seconds left in the last game, a loss to Memphis), and I wanted to make another one. I swear, that’s it. I guess he took offense to it, so he put me on the bench.”
Bynum is now 1-8 for his career from three. Do you really think he doesn’t understand why a coach doesn’t care if he takes a three at the end of an already decided game versus taking one early in the shot clock of a six-point game (at that moment) early in the third quarter? As for him not getting off the bench to be in team huddles, via ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“He took me out of the game, so I just sat where he put me,” Bynum said.
Very mature, Andrew. Combine that with his saying a few weeks back he was loafing on the court, and him getting thrown out of the game in Houston, and you start to see a little pattern.
Kobe Bryant seemed to be the only guy with some sympathy for Bynum. In part because as team leader he needs to keep Bynum engaged. But as Kevin Ding noted it’s in part because Bynum is a rising young star who wants a bigger role on a team with veterans and chafes against his restrictions — a lot like Kobe when he came into the league. Kobe gets him.
Bynum has always fancied himself as more than a traditional center, even though that is his strength. It frustrated former mentor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that a young Bynum didn’t want to work as much on his back-to-the-basket post moves as much as face-up moves from 12-15 feet out. Bynum does not want to fit in your mold.
But that doesn’t excuse not being a good teammate. Even for a night. And how he acted on the bench was the real issue, not the shot itself. Same with other recent actions.
Bynum’s career has been marked by impatience and immaturity. He is thoughtful, well read and smart, and drafted into the NBA (and one of the league’s most visible teams) at 17 he had to do a lot of growing up in the spotlight. It’s been a bumpy road at times.
Tuesday night felt like a regression to the Bynum of five years ago with his attitude. He doesn’t need to be repentant upon his return, not with the fans and media anyway, but he does need to make sure his teammates know he is still with them, that he still has their back.
This was a real benching, unlike the Bryant situation (Brown sat Kobe for a brief rest but when the Lakers went on a quick 6-0 run he decided to ride what worked, maybe for a little too long but the Lakers were +7 that quarter when Kobe sat and -2 after he returned at the end of the game). But there is a similarity:
It’s another silly “crisis” for Mike Brown to deal with that really is not much of a big deal in the locker room but will dominate the talk outside it. Welcome to coaching the Lakers.