They are separated by 40 years in age, 20 years of NBA experience and more than 38,000 points. But Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Andrew Bynum have, nevertheless, found common ground on the hardwood.
For 58-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, a long-held desire to be a head coach in the NBA may hang on his ability to succeed as an assistant coach with the Lakers, specializing in working with the team's big men. Specifically Bynum.
And for Bynum, who turned 18 Thursday four months after becoming the youngest player ever drafted, his chances of succeeding in his rookie year depend on his ability to soak in the knowledge imparted by Abdul-Jabbar.
"I knew it could be a nice situation if the players would listen to me," Abdul-Jabbar said Saturday after the close of the first exhibition season in his new position. "And I have found they are willing to learn."
The 6-foot-11, 285-pound Bynum, taken with the 10th pick of the first round by the Lakers, dismissed any thought that he wouldn't be willing to listen to the man who perfected the sky hook, the shot Bynum would love to make the big weapon in his own arsenal.
"Why not listen?" Bynum said. "He's the greatest center of all time, and he's trying to pass what he's learned off to me. I certainly don't think I already know everything. If I did, I could go out there and get 20 [points] and 20 [rebounds] every night."
Because of a strained abdominal muscle, Bynum appeared in only two exhibition games, getting seven points and nine rebounds.
There are two specific areas Abdul-Jabbar is zeroing in on as he tries to perfect Bynum's sky hook: the arc of the shot and the footwork.
"Sometimes, my shot is flat," Bynum said. "It's a bad habit I have to stop. I need to increase the arc by 20%."
The lessons don't stop when the teacher and pupil leave the court. Abdul-Jabbar has given Bynum a book he wrote on black history.
"He's a very intelligent person," Bynum said. "He could be a history professor."
With the Lakers' exhibition season ending Friday and the season opener scheduled for Wednesday, the Lakers are enjoying something today they haven't experienced in nearly a month: a full day off. This is the first day they haven't been either playing, practicing or traveling since the start of training camp Oct. 4 in Hawaii.