Bynum's behavior raising concerns for Lakers

BY foxsports • April 3, 2012

They
avoided an on-court defeat after blowing a 12-point fourth-quarter
lead, hanging on to beat New Jersey 91-87 at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant
hit the game-clinching 3-pointer with 10 seconds left, the ball
bouncing around several times before falling through the net.

Whether they've lost Andrew Bynum is still up in the air.

The
Lakers’ All-Star center was benched last week and reportedly fined an
undisclosed sum Tuesday for “numerous infractions” this season, as one
report described it. He sat out Tuesday night’s game after spraining his
left ankle in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over Golden State.

Bynum’s health used to be the Lakers’ biggest concern. Now it’s his maturity.

The
7-footer has acted his age since coming into the league at 18. But his
behavior has come into question since the end of last season, when he
knocked J.J. Barea to the floor in a playoff game with Dallas, a
flagrant foul that earned him a suspension for the first four games this
season.

Bynum was ejected for pummeling Barea and pulled off his
jersey as he was leaving the court. Last month in Houston he was ejected
and once again acted foolishly, shaking hands with Rockets fans on his
way to the locker room. He was benched after taking a 3-pointer against Golden State, then said he'd keep taking them. And there have been reported incidents of Bynum
flaunting the team rule prohibiting loud music in the locker room and
blowing off team huddles ("I'm resting ... getting my Zen on," he’s
quoted as saying) and a meeting with GM Mitch Kupchak.

The Lakers
refused to confirm or deny the disciplining of Bynum, who showed up
about an hour before Tuesday’s game and declined to address the issue
with reporters. Coach Mike Brown and Kupchak both said that anything
that might have happened “is an internal matter and we dealt with it
internally.” Players asked to comment chose to remain silent.

Bothered
by injuries for much of his young career, Bynum has been unusually
healthy and more productive than ever this season, earning his first
All-Star selection while averaging almost 18 points, 12 rebounds and two
blocks on 58 percent shooting. But while his game has evolved, his
attitude has devolved.

One reason may be all the talk of his being traded to Orlando for mega-star center Dwight Howard. On
the day he was named to the All-Star team, Bynum expressed joy at his
selection, but then immediately began to look at the negatives.

“I
know it's going to be ridiculous when I get there,” Bynum told
reporters, “because with the game being in Orlando that's all I'm going
to hear for three days. Questions about the trade. And I don't have
answers any more than you guys do — that's up to management. But it's
not going to stop the media from bring it up in every interview session.
And with media from all over the world being there, it's going to be
rough.”

The trading deadline came and went on March 15, and Bynum
still is wearing purple and gold. But has his acting up moved him out of
the Lakers’ long-term plans? Kupchak says no way.

"Despite some
of the events of the last week or two, nothing has changed about our
forward approach with Andrew," Kupchak told the LA Times.

Have
the Lakers lost him by discussing moving him to another team, just like
they did with Lamar Odom at the start of training camp? Or is Bynum,
knowing that he's the favorite of Lakers Vice President Jimmy Buss,
feeling a sense of security and entitlement, seeing how far he can push
management, his coaches and his teammates?

Brown wasn't ready to comment on any theories.

“I
can only say this: He's never disrespected me as a coach,” Brown said.
“We've just got to move ahead and hopefully he'll be able to play
(Wednesday night) against the Clippers. If not, hopefully the next
game.”

And maybe with a new attitude replacing the large chip on his shoulder.

NOTES:
The Lakers are 34-20, including 23-5 at home, a game ahead of the
Clippers for the Pacific Division lead and the No. 3 spot in the West.
They are the designated road team in Wednesday’s Staples Center matchup
against the Clippers, their last meeting of the regular season. The
winner earns the tiebreaker should they end up with the same record at
the end of the schedule, each team taking a victory so far.



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