Big talk today has been spent on Andrew Bynum’s ejection—everything from Kobe’s response to Mike Brown’s.
I think it is a fair and necessary topic.
It’s not simply that he got ejected. I agree with MWP on that one: “It happens.”
Kobe took it a step beyond that, saying, "One of his big strengths is the chip on his shoulder that he plays with, so you can't expect him to have that one night and then knock him for it the next. I don't know what he said or anything like that, but I like the chip that he plays with."
I like the chip, too, Kobe. I just don’t think that’s the entire conversation.
We are currently and simultaneously witnessing an evolving Laker team and an evolving Andrew Bynum.
This is the first year Andrew Bynum has made it to the All-Star Game. His name is being compared to Dwight Howard’s. And, only a couple games back, Kobe called a final play for the big man.
In other words, he’s stepping up and staying healthy, and everyone who cares is celebrating his success.
So, to me, it’s only fair he take the scrutiny that goes with the success and celebration.
Here are a few reasons why Bynum’s actions are worth discussion.
The Lakers need as much time together as they can get right now. The season has been shortened and the trades were just made. Whatever the Lakers are capable of doing in the playoffs will be because of how they jelled during this short time.
The Lakers need wins. Their road record should be a point of disturbance to all fans. To win it all, you’ve got to win road games, too—or at least win enough to bolster yourself to the top of your conference so you can gain as many home games as possible.
The Lakers need to know that when it counts, Andrew Bynum can walk away. Skip Bayless and company on First Take focused on how Andrew Bynum was given the opportunity to walk away, to stop talking. Andrew Bynum chose ejection and then celebrated.
That should be worrisome.
Specifically, it should be worrisome for the reason Mike Brown gave: “We need him on the floor.”
It’s not the same, this time, as getting ejected when Laker hopes had already been diminished last year (still, even last season’s action cost Bynum a timely start this season).
Is Bynum’s problem a big one? That depends on how big Bynum wants to be.
If he wants to be the All-Star and the go-to guy, the Los Angeles Lakers have to know he has the mindfulness to understand his ever-emerging role on the team.
They need to know he can pick his battles.
Continuing to argue with a referee when the Lakers have a short window to jell before the playoffs is not one of those such times.
Last night, Andrew Bynum said he would answer all questions today.
Here are a few: Are you able to elevate your mind to the level of your body and abilities? Are you able to use that chip Kobe likes wisely? When the time comes and the Lakers need you and the opposition or the referees needle you, will you be able to rise above?
Do you realize the responsibility that comes with being a go-to guy?
For the sake of the Lakers, I hope these answers will be "Yes."