6. His role in Kobe relaxing his trade demand
Believe it or not, the Lakers were 25-11 when Bynum suffered his season-ending knee injury against Memphis in January, 2008. This was just a few months after the infamous parking lot video and Kobe’s request to be traded. A lot of the credit for that great start belonged to Bynum. In the 10 games prior to the injury, Bynum registered games of 24 points/11 rebounds, 28/12, 17/16, 23/13, and 25/17. After hitting the game-winning shot in overtime of their next game in Seattle, Kobe had the following exchange with John Ireland in the post-game interview:
Ireland: Does this mean something to you – you were able to win this game on the first day that Andrew is hurt, I know you feel bad for him, he’s watching back at home, what would you say to him?
Kobe: I just wish him all the best. He is a terrific, terrific player, and he just needs to take his time, get back heathy, we are a championship caliber team when he is in the lineup. So it’s important for him just get healthy, and come back strong.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop the tape. Did Kobe just say what I thought he said?
It was a watershed moment. If it was true that Kobe wanted out because the team wasn’t any good, saying they were “a championship caliber team” with Bynum meant that perhaps he was having a change of heart.
Here’s what J.A. Adande wrote at the time:
Throughout their strong start to the season, Bryant was cautious with his praise, reserving judgment. While Lakers fans said, “See?!”, Bryant’s remarks were more wait-and-see. Now, halfway through the season, Bynum apparently has shown enough for Bryant to use the c-word. It makes you wonder if his eyes are no longer wandering, if he thinks the most realistic place to satisfy all of his wants and needs is his current address.”
In case you missed it, here is what Mitch Kupchak had to say about Bynum:
[lakersnation_player file=”http://youtu.be/_Z7OkA1j1GE” autostart=”false”]