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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar unsure what to make of Andrew Bynum's behavior

April 09, 2012|By Mark Medina
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he's concerned about Andrew Bynum's recent ejections.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says he's concerned about Andrew Bynum's… (Credit: Josep Lago /AFP/Getty…)

The behavior Andrew Bynum has exhibited in recent weeks puzzles plenty of Laker fans.

He launched an ill-advised three-pointer that got him benched two weeks ago, and vowed to keep shooting from beyond the arc. Bynum revealed there are times he doesn't join the team's huddles during timeouts. He earned two ejections within the past three weeks against Houston despite the coaching staff's insistence he stay composed. Despite the Lakers' rule that players can't play loud music in the locker room, Bynum has blasted it through his headphones at his locker before recent games.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won five of his six NBA titles with the Showtime Lakers, worked with Bynum  as the Lakers' special assistant coach from 2005 to 2011. But he hardly knows what to make of Bynum's recent transgressions.

"There's a lot of talk about it, but I really don't know what's happening with him personally," Abdul-Jabbar told The Times in an interview that centered on his appearance Tuesday on Fox's "New Girl." "I can't comment because I'm coming from a place where I'm totally in the dark."

Still, Abdul-Jabbar showed concern about Bynum's recent ejections.

"That's something he has to deal with because they need him on the court," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He needs to figure out a way to stay out there."

Abdul-Jabbar's duties decreased the last two seasons in part because of Bynum's development and in part because Abdul-Jabbar was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in November 2009. Abdul-Jabbar has since kept his distance from the Lakers after publicly criticizing them last spring for their failure to construct a statue of him. And he's only attended one Lakers game this year, their 93-83 victory March 4 against the Miami Heat at Staples Center.

But Abdul-Jabbar watched from afar with a proud eye on Bynum's effort this season, in which the 24-year-old has posted career highs in points (18.4 points), rebounds (11.9) and minutes played (35.3).  When Abdul-Jabbar started working with Bynum, he was a 17-year-old who had played only two years of basketball at St. Joseph's High School in New Jersey.

This season, the Lakers' center appears to be blossoming, while missing only one game due to injury because of a sprained left ankle.  He made his first NBA All-Star appearance in his seventh season. Bynum has developed an array of moves, including hook shots, low-post footwork and an ability to finish with both hands. And he's shown continual improvement in passing out and reposting out of double teams. 

"That's pretty amazing he's been able to learn about the game and stay healthy to become an All-Star," Abdul-Jabbar. "He's done a good job in making that transition and learning what he had to learn to nail down what he's doing. Andrew was physically given the attributes that could transform into being a full-time NBA player. But it had to do with what he could learn."

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