Not even Kareem can teach Bynum how not to get injured.
Athletic, skilled, agile, massive potential. Soft, unrealized talent, plays smaller than his height, injury prone. Sentence one describes Andrew Bynum BI (before injury) and sentence two describes him AI (after injury). And so the project that is Bynum slowly rolls on as it has for the last three years.
Two years ago, the Lakers were faced with a dilemma; to sign or not to sign? Bynum was still unrealized talent. Clearly, there were early flashes of brilliance of an athletic center that comes along once every ten years. Little did anyone know that center already plays in Orlando.
The Lakers did the prudent thing and signed Bynum to a long term contract before he truly exploded into a full blown superstar and the Lakers would have to pay up boucoup bucks to keep him in LA.
And then the left knee happened. The next year it was the right knee. Now, it's an Achilles tendon. The injuries are piling up.
The Hype man and I have argued Bynum's merits since he was drafted. Full disclosure, I was a big fan of Danny Granger at the time and was pulling for the Lakers to draft him. But, he plays Kobe's position you say. True, but back then, there was no Pau, Ariza, Fisher or any other semblance of a championship team. I just wanted someone, anyone that could put the ball in the bucket besides Kobe.
After the Bynum project entered year three, I was admittedly excited about this young, talented and still very green center from New Jersey. He had no ceiling. Now I'm not so sure.
As the injuries stack up, you have to wonder if we've seen Bynum's ceiling. At his best, he's the second best center in the league and at his worst; he's an immense talent whose full potential will never be realized because his body can’t hold up for entire season of NBA basketball.
Any doctor will tell you that as soon as you dislocate a shoulder, for example, it won't take much to re-dislocate it again and again and again. Injure a knee once and the chance that you injure it again, increases sharply.
Bynum has been injured three years in a row. Are these simply freak occurrences? Or is a pattern forming of what Bynum's career, sadly, may turn out to be. I fear it is the latter.
Earlier this year, news outlets reported a rumored Bynum for Bosh trade being discussed between LA and Toronto. This was a no brainer for LA. Although everyone gets all sentimental about Bynum's potential and what he may become, we all know what Chris Bosh already is. A perennial all star power forward that scores points, rebounds and plays defense.
For Toronto, the trade also made sense because a) Chris Bosh is an un-restricted free agent this summer and Toronto cannot let him walk for nothing b) Andrew Bynum replaces Bosh's size in the line-up c) Toronto retains a strong nucleus and has a young potential superstar to build their future around d) Toronto isn't getting anyone better than Bynum via a trade.
The rumors proved to be unfounded. Did LA balk at giving up on their young center? Did Toronto think the deal wasn't sweet enough? We'll never know.
What I do know is that the Andrew Bynum experience has left me unsatisfied. For all the talent everyone praises him for, it's what he doesn't do that keeps me up at night. He plays smaller than his giant 7'1" frame, he's not a great rebounder or defender and of course, the injuries.
I really hope Bynum finds a way to stay healthy so we can all see what he’s capable of playing a full year of basketball. My ultimate fear is that like most athletes his size, his body won't hold up its end of the bargain.
Until then, I'll continue to wonder about the curious case of Andrew Bynum.