Andrew Bynum proved his toughness last season, bearing brutal pain each night so he could compete in the playoffs. He then spent the summer proving his stupidity, postponing surgery so he could have some offseason fun. When training camp arrives, Bynum won’t be ready to play. He’s even likely to miss the entire postseason, and possibly opening night. Hmm.
You see, Bynum decided traveling the globe without crutches was more important than recovery. He wanted to enjoy South Africa’s World Cup, and later a vacation in Europe, without limping around on crutches. Bynum even had his knee drained for his trips, looking to have as much fun as possible. Who can blame him? It’s not like Bynum has a $13.7 million contract to live up to. Wait, he does? And he still decided to postpone surgery a month? Oh. Well, wouldn’t YOU get sick of offseason rehab every. single. year?
Bynum expected to be ready for the beginning of training camp despite the postponed surgery, but doctors found more damage than expected. As the O.C. Register’s Kevin Ding wrote, “It was Bynum’s choice to enjoy himself, assuming he’d be fine by the time the 2010-11 season came – even though his complications with knees are well known and his past healings have been measured by sundial.”
“That is why you do it earlier instead of later, just in case,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told the LA Times.
But hey, Mitch, look on the positive side. Your oft-injured seven foot center may be missing training camp and potentially opening night, but at least he saw the World Cup! At least he had a blast in Europe!
Bynum’s curious decision could hurt his relationships with teammates and coaches. Bynum had hardened on the court last season, earning Kobe Bryant’s confidence by enduring pain that would have left a younger Bynum sidelined.
“He is doing a great job,” Bryant said at the time. “He’s playing through an injury. Sometimes you have to do that. I think it shows maturity for the young player to start figuring out how to play around that and do different things to be effective despite the injury. That’s how you grow.”
I wonder what Kobe thinks now.
Mitch Kupchak: Kobe, while you worked out 18 times a day this summer, your largest teammate decided watching soccer was more important than recovering from injury.
Kobe: Did I once say he was maturing? Pshh. I bet you a million bucks The Big Immature misses at least ten playoff games next season.
In all honesty, the Lakers aren’t going to win or lose the NBA championship in training camp, and they aren’t going to win or lose it on opening night. Bynum’s injury, taken by itself, remains a minor setback for the team and nothing else. But when you consider that the Lakers, and his own health, were lower priorities on Bynum’s list than kicking it in foreign countries, Bynum’s maturity can — and should — still be questioned.
Last year, Andrew Bynum finally proved his toughness.
Now he just has to grow up.