The LA Lakers Can't Avoid Drama as Andrew Bynum Goes Down Again

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IMarch 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 19:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 19, 2010 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have a hard enough time staying under the radar as it is, but at a time when the Lakers have began to show vestiges of the championship team of 2009, an injury to Andrew Bynum is the last thing you want to hear.

The Laker faithful have been critical of Bynum and his inconsistent play, and some had even called for Bynum to be resigned to the bench in favor of Lamar Odom, myself included, but I didn't have this in mind.

The official word is Bynum has a strained Achilles tendon, and Kobe Bryant said Bynum wasn't limping too badly afterwards, and hopefully he wouldn't miss any game time because of it.

The injury occurred in the third quarter of the Lakers' win over the Minnesota Timber Wolves, and although Bryant's words are reassuring, Bynum's pain turns into an issue the Lakers can stand to avoid right now.

In the past couple of weeks, the Lakers have cast aside previous concerns about their chemistry and their passion and have began to resemble the team which stormed to last season's championship.

Bynum has been instrumental in this resurgence, and his inspired play has helped solidify the Lakers' front line going into the pivotal final regular season stretch.

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The combination of Bynum and Pau Gasol have been dominant in the post of late, after dealing with questions about the ability of the two players to coexist in the starting lineup.

Los Angeles had appeared to find the crucial mix of chemistry between Gasol, Bynum, and Lamar Odom, and the trio gives the Lakers an element no other team could boast of.

The advantage of having three talented and versatile players in the seven foot range is something which can' be taken lightly, and with Odom's ability to slide to the perimeter, it causes nightmare matchups for the opposition.

For Bynum, it continues a familiar trend because he always seems to get injured just as his game is starting to mature, and the intricacies of the Laker scheme are beginning to dawn on him.

One of Bynum's biggest problems is retention, because it seems whenever he misses time, he regresses and he has shown his most growth when continuity has been established.

Due to the overall level of talent on the Lakers' roster, they are prepared to deal with an injury of this type better than most other teams in the league, and it shouldn't threaten their repeat bid, even if Bynum misses some time.

Odom in essence is a sixth starter and it is a fact the rhythm of the Laker scheme flows better with Odom in the game. And when he slides to the perimeter, it gives Gasol more room to operate in the paint.

But there is no question Bynum is important to the Lakers' championship aspirations, and his injury has ramifications of a different scope, even if it proves to be minimal in nature.

Recently, the NBA spotlight has been squarely focused on LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers as they race through the Eastern Conference, and the absence of scrutiny has allowed the Lakers to deal with their issues.

After Bynum and Gasol instigated the most recent version of Laker-Gate things have been calm for the most part, and Los Angeles has used the calm to strengthen their resolve for the task ahead.

Los Angeles still looks strong in the West, but they are about to embark on a crucial five game road trip which will likely be the last definitive stretch of their regular season.

How they perform on that trip will be instrumental in establishing their final approach to the postseason, and if Bynum is unable to go, media attention will once again swing towards Los Angeles.

Maybe I'm just jumping at shadows, and this recent injury to Bynum really is insignificant. The Lakers sure do seem to believe that because for the moment they are downplaying the incident.

The Lakers could reach the NBA Finals even without a healthy Bynum as they showed in 2008, but they would rather have a healthy Bynum at their disposal, because his presence gives Los Angeles a distinct advantage as was shown in 2009.

Maybe it's just a coincidence the Lakers lost the championship in 2008 without Bynum, and they won it in 2009 with Bynum, but if given the option, I would tend to drift towards the latter due to the final results.

Hold your breath Laker Nation, because even though the team doesn't need Bynum to reach the Finals, it makes life a lot easier knowing he is there if the call to action is necessary.

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