Andrew Bynum: It Is Time for Los Angeles Lakers Center to Grow Up

Elizabeth BensonContributor IIIApril 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after a missed chance to score during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on January 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The past few weeks in Lakerland have been quite confusing. The Lakers added Ramon Sessions and traded Derek Fisher to not only improve the point guard position, but to get younger, faster and more athletic. Problem solved, right? Absolutely not. After all, this is Hollywood and what would the Lakers be without some drama.

Andrew Bynum's behavior has been unsettling for the Laker fanbase to say the least. First came the three-point attempt that was heard around the world, which occurred in the Lakers' matchup against the Golden State Warriors on March 27th. Bynum's new-found goal to extend his game to include three-point shots provoked Mike Brown to bench him for the remainder of the game. 

According to ESPN LA's Dave McMenamin, after Saturday's game against New Orleans Bynum first said:

"'I need some more shots, I think,' when asked about his slow start. He then changed his tune and said he got enough touches and was simply trying to rack up 10 assists so he was passing more. He finished with two assists."

McMenamin went on to write:

"[Bynum] was later asked a question about Kobe Bryant's demeanor during timeouts as Bryant struggled through a 3-for-21 shooting game and Bynum pled ignorance. 'I don't take part in the huddles,' Bynum said. 'I'm resting ... getting my Zen on.'

Bynum was ejected from a recent game in Houston after picking up his second technical foul and rather than leaving the court quickly slapped hands with fans sitting courtside before making his exit."

Then came news on Tuesday via ESPN LA that Bynum was fined an undisclosed amount for "numerous infractions" by the Lakers. Apparently, one of the events that caused the Lakers to pull the trigger on issuing a punishment was Bynum blowing off a meeting with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

The thing that irritates the Lakers fanbase more than anything is the phenomenal potential that Bynum has. He has already showed great strides in his game, especially after working with Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bynum has quickly emerged as the second best center in the game and his efforts earned him a starting spot in this year's All-Star game.

Bynum is averaging 17.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, which are both career highs. He's also averaging 18.7 possessions per game compared to 11.9 last season. Bynum can't blame Brown for not giving him opportunities.

Bynum is still years away from his prime, as he is only 24 years old. However, Bynum is already an essential piece to the team's offense and defense. Therefore, the Lakers' success and ability to get another title depends on his contributions.

Yet, he will never reach his true potential if he does not mature. To do this, Bynum must balance his mind and body. Phil Jackson would have a field day with Bynum's recent behavior. Bynum is testing the Lakers and the fans' patience, which is not a smart move. He has already proved his physicality, now is the time to prove his mentality.