Pivot Points: Andrew Bynum Is Wary Of the New Year And Memphis Grizzlies

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IFebruary 23, 2010

BOSTON - JANUARY 31:  Andrew Bynum  #17 the Los Angeles Lakers smiles  during a game against the Boston Celtics to a loose ball in the second half at the TD Garden on January 31, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  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 Jim Rogash /Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Andrew Bynum is apprehensive in his approach to games in the months of February and January which involve the Memphis Grizzlies and, considering recent history, his concerns may very well be justified.

In January of 2008 Bynum was sidelined by a horrific knee injury which caused him to miss the rest of the season. The injury was at first thought to be one he could return from, but his failure to show progress was a cause of frustration in the Los Angeles Laker organization.

Bynum had just began to show the promise the team had envisioned for him, and his play was instrumental in quieting Kobe Bryant's trade demands which had dominated news for the previous year.

A positive secondary effect of Bynum's injury for the Lakers was the ability to acquire Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, the team Los Angeles was playing when Bynum's injury occurred.

Gasol's quick assimilation to the triangle offense and his overall versatility enabled the Lakers to earn a trip to the 2008 NBA Finals where they were beaten by the Boston Celtics as Bynum looked on.

Bynum vowed to return the next season healthy and ready to help the Lakers get back to the Finals, and he did just that, displaying what he learned from a summer of tutelage from Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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The tandem of Gasol and Bynum in the middle gave the Lakers the most imposing front line in the NBA, and along with Kobe Bryant and the rest of the supporting cast, the Lakers were widely considered the best team in the league.

But, disaster struck Bynum once again in early February of 2009 on a freak play in which Bryant fell back on Bynum's knee while challenging for a rebound, an injury which resulted in an extended period of missed playing time.

Once again the opponent was Memphis and once again Bynum missed crucial playing time when the Lakers were in the midst of their second consecutive Finals run.

Bynum did return in time for the playoffs, and he played a role in the Lakers' conquest of the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Finals by playing competent defense against Magic center Dwight Howard.

But it was not the impact which the Lakers, nor Bynum had hoped for, and in the hours before yet another February meeting with Memphis, thoughts shift to Bynum's own superstitions about his injuries.

He actually voiced as much to coach Phil Jackson on the eve of an earlier January game against the Grizzlies which was the last of an eight game road trip.

Bynum's minutes that night didn't reflect any particular concern on the part of Jackson, as to a fear of him being injured, but both he and Bynum had to be relieved the game was completed without further hinderance.

There is no question each injury has played a major role in the development of Bynum since both happened at what were seen as turning points in his career, due to the visible maturation of his game.

They both caused him to regress as a player and his inconsistency on the court has mirrored the time he has missed as a result of both injuries, and although he has recovered he lacks some of his previous aggressiveness.

He has shown erratic spurts of the ability to be a great NBA center and he can find solace in the fact his injuries were not they type which lead to the conclusion of him being injury prone.

The second injury was clearly a freak occurrence, and it was nowhere near as serious as the first which was the type that could cause an obvious erosion of a player's abilities.

So maybe it would be prudent of Bynum to be mindful of the past, and if the fear of injury is truly a concern for him, then sitting out this game against the Grizzlies may not be such a bad idea. Better safe than sorry.