When the Los Angeles Lakers first drafted Andrew Bynum they brought in Central Harlem resident Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as his personal coach — people forget Kareem was about as fundamentally sound a center as the game had seen.
He seemed a good fit with the very raw Bynum.
Kareem tried to work with Bynum, but they clashed. It was the first of a lot of clashes over the course of Bynum’s young NBA career, one that has seen the highs of an NBA title and the lows of his lost season in Philadelphia.
The Cleveland Cavaliers gambled on Bynum this season and now they want to cut their losses — Bynum has been suspended indefinitely and is being shopped around for a trade. By Jan. 7 Bynum will either be moved or just outright cut in Cleveland.
Sunday Abdul-Jabbar took to Facebook and had these comments about Bynum.
I believe Andrew has always had the potential to help a team when he puts his heart into it. He just doesn’t seem to be consistent with his commitment to the game. That can lead to a lot of frustration for any team that has signed him.
When I worked with Andrew I found him to be bright & hardworking but I think he got bored with the repetitive nature of working on basketball fundamentals day in and day out… but they are the keys to long term success.
In my opinion Andrew is the type of person who walks to the beat of “a different drummer”. So we won’t know the facts until Andrew decides to tell us what actually is the issue and shares his thoughts.
What Kareem says here echoes what you hear out of Cleveland, and out of Bynum’s other NBA stops.
Bynum was suspended just after he with Coach Mike Brown amid Bynum’s minutes and touches dropping. Whatever was said after that meeting Bynum got suspended after it. People around Cleveland saw Bynum as a disruptive force in an already troubled locker room, they didn’t think he was working hard enough to get right.
This has always been the story with Bynum, teammates have long questioned his love of and committment to the game. He can work hard when motivated — which is often tied to getting his next big contract — but as Kareem notes getting good at basketball is about repetition. Stephen Curry makes 500 jump shots a day in the offseason for a reason. Bynum doesn’t enjoy that kind of detail work on his game, and it shows.
But he will get another chance. He has been up and down with Cleveland this season, Bynum is seen as a backup big man and while he will have to take a healthy pay cut with his next deal there will be a next one. Big men like Bynum are in short supply and some good teams (Heat, Clippers) are the kind that could be interested in him playing a limited reserve role.