Will Andrew Bynum Finally Grow Up with Philadelphia 76ers?

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the fourth quarter while taking on the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2012 at Staples Center 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

For all the contributions Andrew Bynum made to the Los Angeles Lakers in his first All-Star season, the organization never seemed in love with the guy.

That's a bit surprising, given that most would rank the seven-footer the second-best center in the league. But, despite his rare combination of size and skill, something wasn't quite right about this kid.

Maybe, it was the fact that he was just that: a kid.

Especially at heart.

Former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar worked with Bynum on his game over the course of four seasons, but he too noticed a lack of maturity according to the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina:

"Dwight is very committed to playing and winning," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Andrew has been up and down on that issue. There are times he wants to play, do a great job and he goes out and does it. Then there are other times where it seems like he's not focused."

Yes, there were most certainly times you wouldn't describe the 24-year-old's effort as "focused."

Some of those times, the infractions were the same kind of lapses in energy talented young players often exhibit: failing to get back down the floor on defense in expedited fashion, or otherwise putting in a second-best effort when the ball wasn't in his hands.

Other times were cause for more concern.

Like the one he chucked a three-pointer early in the shot clock against the Golden State Warriors. Sure, it was just the Warriors, but that was precisely the problem with Bynum's attitude. He didn't treat every game like it might be his last.

And that attitude wasn't just a problem on the court.

Head Coach Mike Brown benched Bynum after his foray into long-range shooting, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. After the game, he showed little remorse, even vowing to try his hand at more perimeter shots in the future.


It's one thing to make a bad judgement call. It's another to feel so good about it. If it was too much to ask for compunction, could we at least see a little respect for the coach?

This "Dr. Phil" can only speculate about what brought on this kind of behavior. 

Perhaps Bynum knew he could afford to mess around. This was Kobe Bryant's team after all. It didn't really need another leader.

Perhaps role models like Metta World Peace aren't the guys you want hanging around budding stars.

Maybe it just takes a certain kind of guy to grow up in Los Angeles without succumbing to a culture of utter nonsense and nihilism. But, you do have to give this to Drew: he never married a Kardashian and got his own TV show.

Philadelphia is a chance for a new beginning, and that's a good thing. A guy with this kind of ability deserves some fresh scenery. He deserves the opportunity to get serious and prove his former team wrong for exploring Dwight Howard's ostensibly greener pastures.

The ball is in his court now.

He can either make Abdul-Jabbar look the clichéd part of the wise sage, or he can make him look like a sour, old man who's forgotten what it was like to be 24 (and who never knew what it was like to play against the kind of athletes who typify today's game).

So far, so good for Bynum (via Los Angeles Times' staff)

"My first experiences here have been so great," Bynum said, "I'm really leaning toward making this my home."

With that proclamation, 76ers fans erupted.

The Philadelphia 76ers should should be a good fit for Bynum in several respects.

There's no Kobe Bryant on this team, for one thing. Bynum's leadership and maturity will be essential from day one. And, there's no better coach to bring it out of him than Doug Collins, a guy who sternly but lovingly turns young teams into good ones.

Moreover, the guy will get plenty of touches.

In his defense, remaining motivated isn't easy when playing for a team that gets you fewer shots than you probably deserve. When Bryant leading the league in usage rate once again, the Lakers sometimes let Bynum float adrift.

Philly, on the other hand, needs all the points it can get.

The club made the most of a feisty, ensemble approach last season, but it desperately needed a go-to guy who created his own offense at crucial moments. Jrue Holiday may be getting there, but Bynum already has that kind of make-up in the post.

He'll also benefit from newly acquired sharpshooters Nick Young and Dorell Wright, both capable of spreading the floor. Help defenders will double Bynum at the risk of leaving those bombers open, and the 76ers will find themselves benefiting from an inside-outside approach that simply didn't exist last year.

With things clicking on the court, they should begin to click off the court too.

This time next year, Dwight Howard will probably be doing questionably accurate impressions of his coach while Bynum is growing into the shoes of a dominant veteran. 

All of the sudden, he just might look like the mature one.


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