Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who was inhibited during the Western Conference playoffs because of swelling in his right knee, finally decided to have the knee drained Monday at the team's training facility in El Segundo.
Bynum had 2 1/2 ounces of fluid removed, a substantial amount.
He had been slowed by torn cartilage in the knee for a little over a month, an injury that limited his minutes and the quality of his play.
Bynum had been hesitant to have the procedure, preferring to stick with treatment rather than following the suggestions made by Lakers trainers and medical staff.
But with the Lakers about to play the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday at Staples Center, Bynum felt the time was right, knowing the Lakers will need his 7-foot, 285-pound presence at center to contend with Boston's physical front line.
"I didn't want to. I'm the one who had been fighting it the whole time," Bynum said. "But it just got to a point where the swelling was just staying there. It was kind of like that green ball over there, just big and a massive amount of swelling, so we just had to take it out."
Bynum laughed and pointed to a green medicine ball sitting in a rack at the training facility.
Kobe Bryant had his right knee drained before Game 5 of the first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bryant has looked stronger since having almost 1¼ ounces removed from the knee.
"Andrew will have more mobility," Bryant said. "He'll be able to move around a lot better. It'll definitely help."
The Lakers didn't practice Monday, instead watching film. They'll practice Tuesday, but Bynum said he won't practice until Wednesday, a day before the game.
Bynum said he didn't have any pain in his knee after the procedure because "I have medicine in it right now, so I feel fabulous."
Bynum suffered a hyper-extended right knee in in Game 6 against the Thunder on April 30. A MRI exam later revealed a small tear.
Halfway through the second-round series against the Utah Jazz, Bynum said it was suggested he have the knee drained. He declined and decided to stick with the therapy.
But after Game 5 of the conference finals against the Phoenix Suns, Bynum said the swelling had persisted.
Early in Game 6 of that series, Bynum winced when he landed after making a short shot, but he kept playing.
"It's like a yellow substance. It looks really gooey when it comes out," Bynum said of the fluid. "It's causing pain with your hamstring tendon and other stuff just because it's tight."
Bynum said having the knee drained was "supposed to alleviate" the pain.
He will continue to wear a knee brace.
"Since the swelling is not in there, it allows my muscles to fire," Bynum said. "When the swelling is in there, it takes away from that. That's the biggest difference."
He missed the 2008 playoffs, including the NBA Finals against Boston, because of a partially dislocated left kneecap. The Lakers lost the series in six games.
This season, Bynum had 19 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots in the Lakers' win at Boston and 14 points and nine rebounds in their loss to the Celtics at Staples Center, a game in which Bryant did not play because of a sprained left ankle.
"Watching our previous two games, I was effective both of those games," Bynum said. "So I need to play at that level and higher for us to be better."
Gasol vs. Garnett
There will be plenty of matchups to watch between the Lakers and Celtics, but among the most intriguing will be between Pau Gasol and Boston's Kevin Garnett.
Gasol knows a lot of eyes will be on him to see how he handles the intense, defense-minded, trash-talking Garnett.
"I just have to be aggressive," Gasol said. "Don't back down and just continue to attack. I'm sure he'll try to be aggressive. They'll rely on his post-up game too."
Bryant NBA's best?
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked if it was important for Bryant to be recognized as the best player in the NBA.
"For him personally, I think it is," Jackson said. "I think he wants to be recognized as the best player. I think he wants to show. He knows it's ephemeral, that this does not last."
Buy NBA Finals tickets here
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.