Lakers center Andrew Bynum, left, tries to drive past Golden State's… (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images…)
An enraged Mike Brown put an immature Andrew Bynum in timeout.
The Lakers center had just taken an ill-advised three-pointer at the top of the key with several seconds left on the shot clock. Yet, Bynum hardly showed remorse during the Lakers' eventual 104-101 victory Tuesday over the Golden State Warriors. Once he sat down with 9:33 left in the third quarter, Bynum smiled and mimicked his release. With exception to a two-minute fourth-quarter stint that featured two more missed jumpers and a free throw, Bynum remained on the bench. Even during timeouts, Bynum refused to stand up and join team huddles. And once it was all said and done, Bynum told reporters he planned to shoot more three-pointers despite Brown's message suggesting otherwise.
In an interesting twist, Kobe Bryant acknowledged he could relate to Bynum's predicament. And we're not talking about Bryant sitting in four of the last six minutes of the Lakers' 102-96 loss Sunday to the Memphis Grizzlies. In that game, Bryant reacted by stewing on the bench and then refusing to question Brown. But on Tuesday, Bryant told reporters that Bynum's three-pointer "wasn't that big of a deal to me" because it showed his interest in expanding his game and that the coaching staff should show more understanding in that.
Bynum should surely test his limits. That's why he constantly reads self-help books. That's why he's received various treatments to ensure his surgically repaired right knee stays healthy. That's why he works endlessly with Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham on establishing his base and reading double teams better. That's why Brown envisioned last week that Bynum would become great at playing off pick-and-rolls.
Taking a three-pointer simply after making a throwaway heave at the end of the Lakers' loss to Memphis doesn't illustrate Bynum testing his limits. That shows he's simply taking a ridiculous shot outside the context of the offense. On the night Bynum threw this ill-advised three-pointer against the Warriors, he provided little else. His 11 points proved underachieving considering how depleted Golden State's front-line remains. Bynum's five rebounds revealed his lack of aggression on the boards, as Pau Gasol grabbed 17 of them. And his bench behavior showed Bynum doesn't understand why taking such a shot could hurt his team in a close game.
Just when it seems Bynum is turning a corner in his development, an incident pops up that illustrates he still has a long way to go. Last week, he responded to an ejection against Houston by high-fiving teammates and courtside fans before leaving the court. He's nearly a season removed from delivering that forearm shove to J.J. Barea that earned him a four-game suspension to open the 2011-12 campaign. There's also, of course, the times he was caught parking in handicapped spaces.
All of these incidents appear isolated, but they're not. It paints a picture of Bynum constantly taking a step backward just after taking two steps forward. And as his demeanor on the bench and post-game comments suggest, Bynum clearly doesn't realize that behavior is delaying him from reaching his full potential.
Kobe Bryant says Andrew Bynum should be handled with care
Five things to take from Lakers' 104-101 victory over Warriors
Lakers Coach Mike Brown has no regrets about benching Kobe Bryant