Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke asked readers in his column Tuesday to give him a moment, “one defining Andrew Bynum moment.”
Okay Mr. Plaschke, how’s April 14, 2009.
It was the last game of the regular season, and only Bynum’s fourth game back in the lineup after missing 32 due to injury. The Lakers faced the Utah Jazz, a team they would meet a week later in the playoffs. Half-way into the first quarter, Derek Fisher found Bynum for the alley-oop dunk over Corey Brewer. The dunk was so poignant, so emphatic that Staples Center crowd roared with genuine emotion and relief.
With one huge rattle of the back-board, Bynum’s play was reminiscent of just how well he was performing pre-injury. The crowd infused by the excitement of things to come, of Bynum re-visiting his enormous potential. He ended the night with 22 points.
Eight weeks or so later, the Lakers were parading around Figueroa Street with the Larry O’Brien Trophy in hand.
A few extra hash marks in the loss column, all of a sudden the Lakers with all their size and strength find themselves having to fight off trade rumors. One day they’re the most threatening club in the league, the next they’re incapable of playing cohesive basketball and a change must be made to move forward. It’s too bad basketball pundits can’t make up their minds.
So what if Bynum’s name, over the last couple of years has been synonymous with injury. He’s overcome it in the past and the Lakers have still been able to win championships with him only contributing limited minutes on the floor.
The only time he couldn’t deliver was in 2008 when he was unable to play. Let’s not forget, as detrimental to the team as his injury was that year, had he not gone down, the front office may never have been prompted to make a trade for Pau Gasol.