Andrew Bynum: Same Story, Different Season

Justin Chatelle@@jchatelleCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2009

There has been one thing missing in Los Angeles since 2004—a dominant low-post presence.

There was one thing missing last year in the NBA Finals—a dominant low-post presence

And this season brings more of the same for the Los Angeles Lakers in almost a mirror image of what happened just a year ago, Andrew Bynum going down with a knee injury.

In a game this past weekend against the Memphis Grizzlies, Bynum tore his MCL when teammate Kobe Bryant inadvertently rolled into his leg when going for the ball.  The injury is going to require surgery and place Bynum on the injured reserve for 8-12 weeks, possibly costing him the rest of the regular season and maybe the post season.

It's so similar to last season that the very thought of it must send chills down the spines of Laker fans everywhere.  Especially given the situation.  Bynum had been on a tear over his last ten games averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game including a career-high 42 points and 15 rebounds on Jan. 22 against the Clippers.

The injury means another race to the MVP for Kobe Bryant this year as it is going to take a duplicate performance from last season to get the Lakers back to the NBA Finals again in a very competitive Western Conference. 

His 61 points Monday night at Madison Square Garden is a good start, but can Kobe lead the Lakers to a No. 1 seed in the West again as home court advantage makes all the difference, just ask the Celtics.

And what does the injury mean for the rest of Andrew Bynum's career?  This is now two consecutive years that a knee injury has sidelined Bynum for the rest of the season, and at 7'0" 285 pounds, those knees take enough abuse as it is throughout an entire season. 

After two knee surgeries the Lakers must be wondering if that four-year, $58 million contract was the right investment to be making for the organization.

Andrew Bynum has become the missing piece of the puzzle since Shaq's departure to Miami in 2004 but he isn't providing the Lakers with any help while sitting on the sideline nursing injuries and if he doesn't get better by the playoffs this season the Lakers will come up just short of an NBA championship once again.

Not having Bynum in the line up to battle with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins last year was the biggest difference in the series and with a hungry Spurs team in the West, great seasons from the Magic and Cavaliers thus far, and the defending champs staying true to their title it seems to be an uphill battle for the Lakers.

And without Andrew Bynum it just seems to be the same old story for Kobe as he continues to chase the elusive fourth NBA Championship ring.