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Andrew Bynum has the cars, but does he have drive to grow up?

T.J. SIMERS

After getting stopped twice by police in a span of two days during his four-game suspension, a question of accountability arises.

December 29, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Andrew Bynum may be the biggest man on the court for the Lakers, but he still has some growing up to do.
Andrew Bynum may be the biggest man on the court for the Lakers, but he still… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

I wasn't surprised Andrew Bynum was ticketed for speeding Wednesday.

Obviously he had just heard he was the subject on Page 2 and was rushing to buy The Times. Nice to see one young person still reads the paper.

I had written about the need for Bynum to report back to work as a grownup after his four-game suspension. Obviously I'm not clairvoyant.

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I was unaware he had been stopped by the police a day earlier as well and given a "fix-it" ticket for improperly functioning taillights and having no license plates.

Kids are known for lapses in judgment, so maybe he hasn't grown up as much as I had hoped. The guy owns 13 cars at last count and he's picking the one with the bad taillight and no license plates?

I am guessing it's the toughest decision he has to make every day: Which car do I take? Can you imagine keeping track of 13 different sets of keys?

When I wrote about Bynum, I thought we'd have to wait until his return Saturday to see if he's matured.

But after Bynum was stopped twice by the police in a span of two days while on suspension, I was curious to know whether he was holding himself accountable as an adult.

I emailed Lakers PR czar John Black, asking about Bynum's availability only to be told players don't like to talk after shoot-arounds.

I told Black I could understand Bynum's concern not wanting to lose his voice if he has to go to court and plead not guilty.

But given the last eight months, Bynum's childish behavior in Dallas, his disregard for the handicapped and taking their parking places, his recent meetings with the police, and knowing he wasn't playing against the Knicks, how about a hint of accountability?

Black said he would let Bynum know the media wanted to speak with him. So I started driving to the Lakers' practice complex. I drove the speed limit; didn't think it would be a good idea to get a ticket and then cross-examine Bynum.

I also kept an eye on the carpool lane, figuring he might go flying by. From what we know of Bynum, is it so far-fetched to think he wouldn't be driving by himself in the carpool lane?

Later I learn every one of his 13 cars has tinted windows and windshields, so I wouldn't have seen him. That might explain why we've never heard of him being ticketed for driving in the carpool lane by himself.

When I arrive in El Segundo, Black tells the assembled media Bynum declines to speak. Black didn't say if Bynum was lying on his tummy on the floor and kicking his feet in the air when declining to speak.

But from what I've been told, Bynum doesn't like to talk about the mistakes he's made. I wonder if he'll run for office some day.

On a positive note, TMZ reports Bynum wasn't going as fast this time as the last time he was ticketed — for driving 110 mph. I must have written something really good that day.

I ask Enabler and Coach Mike Brown about Bynum's behavior and he says, "If a mailman was speeding, do you think he would be fired?"

If he cheap-shots someone at work, then storms out of the building while taking off his shirt, becomes a public embarrassment with published pictures of his mail truck parked in handicap spaces on two occasions, then yes, he best be a basketball player.

Meanwhile, I wait for Bynum after everyone's gone because I can't believe he's so childish as to hide behind a PR guy. As it is, he'd have to stoop pretty low to hide behind most of the shrimps now working in PR.

The guard at the Lakers' complex is a little surprised. "Bynum's usually the first one gone," he says.

When Bynum appears he keeps on walking even after I ask him to stop. I'm betting it's not the first stop sign he's rolled through.

Here I am, 60 or so, trying to walk and talk to a 24-year-old who is pouting and saying nothing in return. Good thing I just came off a weekend with the 2-year-old twins; it wasn't like this was my first experience with a baby.

I elect not to spank him. He gets in his car, a convertible BMW with a license plate, and peels off rubber. It's the most noteworthy thing I can remember him doing in his Lakers career.

And yet for the past six years I've been the guy's biggest advocate, everyone else wanting him shipped off.

But no more. It's become pretty clear this guy doesn't care what anyone thinks of him, or where he parks.

There's nothing appealing about an entitled athlete who really doesn't have much more to offer than the fact God gave him the size to earn millions the rest of his life because of the value placed on big people in this sport.

Plaschke might be right, and dummy me.

I spent a lot of time trying to get to know Bynum last season, mining for something that might suggest he was going to be as special as I thought.

But there's not much there. It's like dealing with the Dodgers' James Loney.

Both Bynum and Loney seem to reside in worlds removed from their teammates, content within themselves as if kids playing video games. And both failing to meet expectations; seemingly caring little about it.

They offer so much promise, but the conclusion might be the same: The Dodgers and Lakers better off without them.

I know this: Given Loney's recent highway mishap and Bynum's penchant for doing as he pleases in a car, this place might be a whole lot safer without them.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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