We’ve heard it for years: Man, that Bynum dude is soft. Jello. Marshmallows. Silk sheets.
But has it become false? Is Andrew Bynum (damn it) growing into a man in front of our very eyes? Is he becoming (this is way too weird to say) tough?
If there was one unwavering truth about the Lakers this season, it’d be that Bynum was going to be injured. We all knew it was coming. For whatever reason, it has never seemed like the monster’s body can handle the pounding of an NBA season. Some dudes are just like that, ya know? It’s not their fault, they’re just injury-prone. Bill Walton is probably the greatest example. One of the best players ever, he just couldn’t stay off the damn injured list.
Bynum was (is, really) the same way. Somewhere around midseason, you can count on him to be hurt. By the postseason, he’s more likely to be sitting in a suit watching the game than doing his thing out on the court. He’s a serious talent when he’s on the court, he just tends to be off it enough to make us wonder whether he’ll ever truly be a stud in this league. As Celtics fans, we had no doubt we’d be playing a Bynum-less Lakers squad if we made the Finals. He was going to get hurt, there wasn’t a doubt in our minds.
And get hurt he did, but then something very mind-boggling happened — Bynum decided to (it’s still odd to say it) tough out the pain. A torn meniscus wasn’t going to keep him from competing in his first full postseason, Bynum decided. He’s had to drain his knee, can barely practice, and claims to be in a whole lot of pain. But he keeps on chugging.
By “chugging” I mean “dominating,” as he did in Game 2. Given that it was an NBA Finals game, it was the best performance of Bynum’s career. Considering that he was somehow playing through pain, swelling and the stigma of being soft, it was more than just Bynum’s best game: It was a goddamn miracle.
Except not for us Celtics fans, and not for me. I want Lamar Odom back as the Lakers starting power forward and I want Pau Gasol to be switched to center. I want soft Bynum back, watching the game from the bench with a brace on his goddamn knee. I’ve had enough of this Laker down-low domination, and I’ve had enough of Andrew Bynum the biggest, baddest guy in the NBA Finals. 7 blocks? Are you kidding me? He’s not even supposed to be playing right now.
I keep hoping I’m going to wake up one morning and Bynum’s going to remember who he is. You’re soft, Andrew, you’re soft. But with every heroic game he plays, I lose a little hope.
Something tells me the new Andrew Bynum (damn it) is here to stay.