Every major sports league in the United States has the “poster team”. Some have a few “poster teams” that are held to a high standard, are expected to deliver far more often than every other team and are the teams the league relies on to maintain a certain standard.
Some can argue who exactly those teams in each league are. But the consensus thinking can narrow it down for many. In the MLB it can be argued that the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are the leagues most popular teams. Each of these two franchises are held to a much higher standard. So much so that the Yankees have a “Yankee Standard” that even restricts hairstyles and clothing.
The NFL is a bit tougher to narrow down due to so much parody. But for many years it was argued that the Dallas Cowboys were “America’s Team”. The only other team in that distinction could be the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The NBA has one team that has that high standard of class, dignity and a rich history of winning. The Los Angeles Lakers.
But as the defending back-to-back champions were losing by more than 30 points (and essentially the series) to the Dallas Mavericks the evidence of a Championship quality quickly fluttered out of the building unceremoniously. Thanks to Andrew Bynum.
As his forearm cracked into the ribs of Dallas’ J.J Barrea and sent him to the floor in a terrifying manner, Bynum proceeded to take off his jersey and leave the court.
But those who have watched Bynum grow into the player he is today at this point in his career can attest, a true “Champion” has not been Bynum’s M.O.
At 7’0 and 285 pounds Bynum has all the hype, all the tools and the physical attributes that can give you the impression he will be a dominant center. For all 6 of his seasons he has also been in a system that is perfect for a big man to excel, the Triangle Offense.
Bynum has never had to carry the load on his own. He has had perhaps one of the greatest players of all time in Kobe Bryant, perennial All-Star Pau Gasol, All-Star Lamar Odom, defensive specialist and All-Star Ron Artest and a Coach with more than 10 championships in his trophy case, Phil Jackson. Bynum has also benefited from Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar who has tirelessly worked with Bynum to help him reach his full potential.
But with all of that working in his favor Bynum has not turned into the Power House center he should be. Instead, as evidence once again in the Lakers elimination, he has become a lazy, oft-injured, classless player who reacts more often than not like a tantrum-throwing toddler than a 2 time NBA Champion.
As J.J Barrea hit the floor with a sickening thud I wanted to give Bynum the benefit of the doubt. Although his action was clearly dirty, bush league and unjustifiable I wanted to try categorize this display as a freak occurrence.
But after some research I found numerous incidents that Bynum has used his now famous forearm. And not for delivering a 30 point performance, but for cheaply and dangerously hacking NBA players in childish frustration.
Instead of taking his anger and filtering it as motivation to improve, Bynum uses it to showcase how immature he is and how he may never realize his potential.
At 7 feet tall and primarily a post player there is no excuse NOT to be grabbing 10 boards a game. Bynum has averaged 7.1 over his 6 year career. After posting a career high in points last year with 15.0, Bynum followed it up by dropping to 11.0 points per game this year.
And again, one may assume that Bynum is spending his time working vigorously to improve his now declining game. Instead he is unraveling. Putting other players in harms way and jeopardizing careers.
Take a look at the JJ Barrea cheap shot again:
Very dangerous “hard foul”. And instead of showing ANY concern for Barrea, Bynum showed no remorse. He calmly looked the other way and walked off the court. During his trek to the locker room he took off his shirt in an obvious act of defiance.
So maybe this was a freak thing? Hardly. Take a look back to earlier this season when Bynum did a similar act to Minnesota Timberwolves‘ Michael Beasley:
A violent hit by Bynum who went out of his way to hit Beasley in an aggressive fashion. Bynum aimed to hurt Beasley.
But maybe these 2 occurrences were just “freak”. Hardly, Bynum’s forearm was not as effective in 2009, but had just as much intent. Gerald Wallace can attest to that:
Clearly Andrew Bynum has not perfected the “sky hook”. Has not become the dominant interior offensive threat with a arsenal of moves. He isn’t even a potent shot blocker at his size.
Instead Laker fans, you get a 7’0 center who has perfected a vicious forearm cheap shot. A player who can’t improve faster than he declines. A player that puts the dignity and class of the entire Lakers organization at risk. A player who has yet to play a full season. A over grown baby who instead of working hard to improve himself, would rather jeopardize another players career.