Not even two minutes into the 3rd quarter of last night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, with 16 seconds left on the shot clock and a 6-point lead, Los Angeles Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum walked up the court and shot a 3-pointer from the top of the key. If you’re into this sort of thing, the video is available to watch here.
I wouldn’t say he missed terribly. The shot had a nice touch, but fell right of center. The Warriors rebounded, but couldn’t even get the ball past half court before Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown ventured down to the end of his bench to substitute Josh McRoberts for the still 24-year old Bynum. Andrew would not see action the rest of the quarter, and only a scant few minutes in the fourth, as LA struggled to maintain it’s lead over the undersized Warriors team.
Spanning his 7-year NBA career, Andrew Bynum has taken 7 threes, making one (two nights ago, in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies).
It is not against the rules for a center to take a 3-point shot. Off the top of my head, Mehmet Okur takes them, Andrea Bargnani takes them, Spencer Hawes takes them. Manute Bol took them. Pau Gasol of the Lakers, who plays the center position each and every game for the same Los Angeles Lakers, has taken 19 of them this season alone. So why would first-year coach Mike Brown punish Bynum after launching his own?
Because he missed? If that shot had gone in, would Brown have pulled him?
I’m certainly not lobbying for Bynum to start taking more shots from deep. I clearly see the error in him launching basketballs from 24 feet away. If I had my druthers, Bynum wouldn’t move from directly underneath the rim on both ends, he would never put his arms down, and he would have his entire skeleton fortified with the indestructible metal alloy, adamantium.
Andrew Bynum shouldn’t take 3-point shots because he is simply not effective at making them. However, by the numbers, a lot of Lakers, in a lot of different positions, are not effective either.
The Lakers 3PT% during the 2012 NBA season:
Andrew Bynum: 25% (1-4)
Pau Gasol: 26% (5-19)
Metta World Peace: 26% (33-125)
Kobe Bryant: 28% (73-254)
If Mike Brown wants to punish someone for taking and missing a bad 3-point shot, he can stand in the middle of a huddle, put on a blind fold, point his finger, spin himself in a circle, and bench the player he stops on. There are only two teams worse at making 3’s in the NBA, and one of them is the Charlotte Bobcats, which is, as we all know, a franchise that should be put on a rocket ship and blasted into the sun.
When asked about the very public censure (the Lakers played on NBATV’s Fan Night), Brown said,
“That’s something that I felt could have taken us out of rhythm, and so that’s why I took him out of the game.”
Ohhhhh! I get it. It’s not that Bynum took the shot, it’s that it was taken outside the flow of the offense? Mike Brown, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant…
I’m not defending Bynum or his errant shot (Kevin Ding did that far more beautifully than I ever could). My issue is with Mike Brown. Brown needs to be consistent with his actions, his coaching. If you’re going to punish someone for hurting the offense, you better punish everyone who does the same. Different sets of rules for different players will breed contempt. Pau Gasol, like Bynum, is a seven footer who should be operating predominantly from the post, yet Gasol’s taken multiple ill-advised three point attempts with impunity. Pau spoke to the press about Bynum,
“That’s not his game. Hopefully it’s just one bad game, it’s out of the way. We’ll be fine. Andrew understands.”
I’m sure Bynum appreciates the lecture. Let’s take a look at the first 135 seconds of the Lakers loss to the Grizzlies 3 days ago:
10:52 - Pau Gasol misses 16-foot jumper
10:33 - Pau Gasol misses 19-foot jumper
10:15 - Pau Gasol misses 17-foot jumper
09:45 - Pau Gasol misses 17-foot jumper
Please, Pau Gasol, tell me more about who should be taking what shots.
So what does Brown do after Gasol misses the Lakers’ fourth shot in a row to start the game? Nothing. He didn’t bench Gasol for playing outside his strength. He didn’t bench Gasol for repeatedly making the same mistake over and over. Yet, two days later, Brown does punish Bynum, and Gasol decides to be didactic?
“I guess, ‘Don’t take 3’s is the message, but I’m going to take another one and I’m going to take some more, so I just hope it’s not the same result.”
- Andrew Bynum
You know what kind of people hate inconsistent treatment, and public emasculation? 24-year old kids like Andrew Bynum. He’s been watching Kobe Bryant jack shots for 7 straight years, doing exactly what’s been asked of him without complaint, to the tune of back-to-back championship titles. He’s been underestimated, relegated to third wheel status behind Gasol, and sometimes fourth behind Odom, injured and understandably frustrated with his career to this point. Now he’s finally healthy, coming into his own during a wild, unpredictable season, while learning a new system on both ends of the court, still adjusting to play with a ball-dominant Kobe Bryant, and waiting in the paint for the rebound off Pau Gasol’s missed 3-point shot, and you’re wondering why he’s lashing out?
Tip of the iceberg for Mike Brown. Earlier this week, the head coach publicly benched Bryant, only with ESPN cameras this time, for playing exactly the way Kobe’s played his entire career. Brown’s explanation?
“I felt I wanted to make a sub at the time.”
Here’s an idea, Coach Brown: instead of punishing both men in front of the cameras, talk to each behind them. Give those players the respect a man, and multi-million dollar, championship athlete deserves. And when you get frustrated again, Coach Brown, please remember: these Lakers’ go as far as Bryant and Bynum drag them.
This road will never be easy for the new coach. Brown is replacing Phil Jackson, a man who is not only world-famous for dealing with team strife, but could earn the respect of his players simply by flashing his golden knuckles. On the other hand, Brown’s résumé shows a history of weakness. In his only other head coaching job in the NBA, Brown let LeBron James ran roughshod over Cleveland. Could Mike now be over-compensating to avoid the same criticism?
This NBA season is different than any before it, with compressed schedules, accelerated travel, and no practice time, now more than ever head coaches need to be pillars of support and models of consistency for their players. The only thing Mike Brown has done consistently is tinker with his lineups. Two weeks ago, Josh McRoberts couldn’t get off the bench, and rookie shooting guard Andrew Goudelock was playing 15-20 minutes per game. Now, it’s completely reversed. A certain level of experimentation is expected for a new coaching staff and new offensive and defensive systems, but somebody remind the head coach there are only 16 games left. NBA teams like to find a groove just before the Playoffs. The Lakers will be lucky to have a locked rotation.
This core has won titles together, and it’s clear Mike Brown does not have their respect. Bynum said he’d shoot more from distance. Bryant called the coaching staff “inexperienced.” Steve Blake was the starter “for the remainder of the season,” but Brown has changed course, and is still searching for the right mix off the bench. To top it off, are the players now worried if they make a mistake they’ll be punished on cable television?
Cats and dogs, living together… All in a day’s work for Lakers’ head coach Mike Brown.
Think Derek Fisher could have helped with this mess?
And I truly believe that Mike Brown has isolated most of this team. In the same way that some say Carmelo ‘got Mike D’Antoni fired,’ so to will happen to Mike Brown if he clashes with Kobe & Bynum, two players making about $40 million collectively this season. Reasons like this are why the Lakers probably should have gotten Rick Adelman when they had the chance.
If you look at the back of your hand, you’ll notice muscle. Some tendons, ligaments. Probably a vein or two.
Now, look at the above photo again.
From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
With those torn ligaments in his right wrist – an injury that should’ve required surgery and three months of rehabilitation – Bryant is forever one collision from serious seasonal consequences. When he fails to keep the wrist moving during a game, it will swell significantly.
Kobe tore the lunotriquetral ligament in the wrist of his shooting hand. The lunotriquetral ligament is a series of bands of connective tissue that link the lunate and triquetral bones. Since Kobe’s lunate and triquetral bones did not displace during his fall in the Lakers’ preseason game against the Clippers, Byrant eschewed surgery, leaving him with what medical professionals refer to as “fat-hand.”
Kobe’s bad wrist and “fat-hand” restrict his movement, weaken his grip on the ball, and drastically affect his shot. The injury is no more evident then when Kobe is on the free-throw line. Kobe’s made over 7,000 freebies, and taken almost 8,500. His stroke has been refined over 16 seasons. Nowadays, every Kobe free throw is accompanied by an overt, nervous body English. He leans, bends. His arms flail as he tries to will the ball into the basket.
You: Well, Neil, if Kobe’s wrist affects him that much when he’s just standing still taking free throws, doesn’t it affect everything else he does, from dribbling to the difficult jump shots he takes, even more so?
Yet he persists. Kobe Bryant’s ability to play through pain and significant injury is admirable, dare I say inspiring.
From Bill Simmons of Grantland:
Kobe is a tough dude. Gotta hand it to him - he plays with legit injuries about as well as NBA player I can remember.
We’re at the point in Bryant’s career where any non-catastrophic injury is written off as a relative non-factor - never to keep him from missing time - and all of his catastrophic injuries are written off as non-catastrophic.
He’s an absolute warrior. Our memories of Kobe scoring, and winning titles, on a myriad of injuries will balloon like a tall tale. “Remember the time Kobe scored 44 with two left arms? Yeah, his right arm got shot off by a bazooka, so he bought a left arm on the German black market, had it sewn on, and hung 44 on Ruben Patterson.”
Of course, Bryant’s willingness to battle while wounded is, in part, a pointed strategy in his ongoing Résumé War with Michael Jordan. Kobe’s legacy will undoubtedly benefit from every injury he has played with, and will play with, over the course of his career, but the best way for Bryant to pass Jordan on the All-Time list will be to pass him in championship rings.
We’re certain the Lakers can’t win a title without Bryant, but can they hang a banner with Bryant so clearly not even close to 100%. Last season’s knee and ankle injuries never hurt Kobe more than when he walked off the floor in Dallas, a victim of the Mavericks’ Playoff sweep. This year, I can promise you, Bryant’s wrist will not be getting better.
According to the Orange County Register’s Kevin Ding, Bryant is receiving a numbing injection before every game. Head Coach Mike Brown admits the injury “could be hurting Bryant more than he is letting on.” Take it from Kobe’s personal trainer (also, famously, Michael Jordan’s personal trainer), Tim Grover:
“I’ve never seen anyone do what Kobe’s doing right now.”
Maybe that’s not a good thing? We’ll never know because Kobe Bryant is playing tonight.
Did you hear about the time Kobe blocked a shot with his anger?
Congratulations to Kobe Bryant for being voted “Most Likely to Succeed” by his graduating class at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. With 5 NBA titles, 1 league MVP award, 2 Finals MVP awards, 13 All-Star appearances, 9 All-NBA First Team selections, 27,686 points, and $196,190,615 in career earnings (not counting endorsements), Kobe certainly made good on the bold prediction.
However, if you would, let us look at the true superstar of LMHS Class of ‘96 - Antje Herlyn. With Google, a little investigation, and a lot of free time, I found out Antje is now Dr. Herlyn.
After Lower Merion, Herlyn was accepted to Ivy League powerhouse, Dartmouth University, where she graduated with a degree in dolphins (Made up her major. Everything else is real, but I just couldn’t find her major anywhere. Ladies like dolphins though, right?). While at Dartmouth, Herlyn met classmate Sebastian Marc Barreveld, who she would marry in 2007. Barreveld was a doctoral candidate in 17th-century Dutch cultural History at Stanford University, where he also received a master’s degree in early modern European history.
After college, Herlyn got her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco, before doctoring things at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Dr. Herlyn is now a well-regarded anesthesiologist, and upstanding citizen.
Sure, on the surface, you could make the case Kobe has been more “successful,” what with his worldwide fame and budding global brand, but I submit that is not the case. For your consideration: Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant will retire within the next 5-25 years, while Dr. Antje Herlyn and her husband will be rolling in that Dutch cultural History-money until they’re at least 65. Take that.
Talk about research skills.
Got ‘Em Coach + LakerNation.com
I wrote a column on Tex Winter, and why he should not only be in the Hall of Fame, but how they should have put him in there three or four times this past weekend. LakerNation.com, one of the biggest Laker blogs online, posted it this afternoon.
If you’re a Lakers or Bulls fan, it’s a must read. If you really, truly love me, you’ll read it too.
Check it out: Finally: Hall of Fame Welcomes Tex Winter
Pau for Kevin Love. Odom for Iguodala. Luke Walton for anything.
Few things in life truly swirl. Trade rumors are one of them. I am another. So, as one of the world’s foremost swirlers, I thought it’d be awfully nice of me to give you my experienced, dare I say scientific, breakdown of the trade waters surrounding the NBA and engulfing the LA Lakers.
First off, any major trade is going to have to pass across Mitch Kupchak’s desk. The Los Angeles Lakers will be at the heart of a lot of meaningful trade talk for a few reasons:
- The Lakers are always an attractive destination because the franchise always competes for a title, and the city of Los Angeles provides lots of extracurricular activities (both work and non-work related).
- The Lakers need to make a trade.
- The Lakers have some big pieces in play.
Item #1 needs no explanation, so lets head on to item #2 - the Lakers need to make a trade. Could LA win the title next year with the same team, making no changes whatsoever (aside from Mike Brown)? Yes. But why just prepare for next year, when you can load up for the next 5 years with a few strategic maneuvers? Remember Laker fans, this is a franchise with 16 banners and designs for more, not just a team trying to slip in one more run under a closing window.
Issue #3 seems be a bit of a hot button, but I’ll quickly clear up any confusion. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are highly desirable, big name assets who, coincidentally, are all in perfect position to be traded.
LAKERS ON THE MOVE?
“I have to learn from this. I have to learn that when something happens off the court, you have to keep it off the court.” - Pau Randolph Gasol
Other than making up his middle name, that’s a 100% true quote. Girlfriend trouble or not, the guy openly admitted to taking a Spanish dump in the Playoffs because of personal matters. Now ask yourself how he’s going to play with trade rumors hanging over his head? Worse yet, what happens if his dog dies? What if nobody shows up to his birthday party? Could ruin the guy. Hey, we all have lives outside of work, we just don’t all have to explain them to Kobe Bryant. Do you think Kobe will ever completely trust Gasol again?
That’s why any trade that includes Pau Gasol will be directly attributed to the silent vote of no-confidence from Bryant. Quiet about head coach Mike Brown? Who cares. Kobe hasn’t said a word in defense of his once-trusted teammate, whose neck is now firmly on the chopping block.
Let’s face it. Pau’s a white swan. I’m 100% positive. I can see all the feathers with my eyeballs. They’re white. A tiger can’t change his stripes, what made you think a swan could change colors? As fans, we have to appreciate players for who and what they are, or we’ll lost out on enjoying them altogether (totally applies to LeBron). Laker fans from Santa Monica to Barcelona all wanted Pau to be “the man” when Kobe retired, but it ain’t happening. It’s time to accept Gasol, keep him in tow as the second banana, and hope Kobe has enough left in the tank, or consider moving him. The Lakers are exploring their options, and Gasol still has the cachet of being a 2-time Champion and one of the league’s best.
Like Pau, Andrew Bynum is a potential franchise big man, a rarity in the NBA today. For that reason, teams are forced to consider trades with LA because franchise bigs don’t grow on trees. Or really anywhere else, for that matter.
Again, LA is in a good position to deal, as Bynum is young (23), on the cusp of proving he has All-Star talent, and “healthy.” The best thing to came from elbow smashing Juan Jose Barea was that Bynum made everyone forget about his multiple late-season tweaked knees.
Tweaking is not healthy. If you’re consistently tweaking anything, it’s in bad shape. Know why you keep “tweaking” that song you’ve been writing in your basement? Because it sucks, dude. On top of that, knees in general never get better. My knees are worse every day, and I almost never do anything physically active, I don’t have 300+ pounds on them, and I’m not genetically predisposed to having knee trouble in the first place.
One more injury, and Bynum is damaged goods. Untradable. You buy low, and sell high. Andrew will finally enjoy a summer without surgery, and is a 2-time Champion with a serious back-to-the-basket game. Plus, the whole “Jim Buss loves him” thing may actually be working in LA’s favor. The Bynum/Jim Buss love affair is so well known and pervasive, it’s driving up the price. GM’s assume, because the Lakers are so “in love” with him, that Bynum’s worth his weight in gold. Pretty soon, he might be worth his weight in knee braces.
This one’s very difficult for Laker fans who know LO’s been the glue for the past 2 title teams, but it’s an easy decision on the business end. Odom’s 32, he’s played 11 seasons, and he’s never been known as a tireless worker in the off-season. The odds of him drastically improving from this point forward are slim, but with a 6th Man of the Year award, his value is at a ten year high. Buy low. Sell high.
Monta Ellis is young (which the Lakers need), and can shoot (which the Lakers need), but he’s not a point guard (which the Lakers need), and doesn’t defend (which the Lakers desperately need). The Warriors turned down Lamar and Shannon Brown for Monta, and they’re not going to get a better offer than that. Consider the Monta door closed.
Kevin Love is currently a stat machine on a bad team, and those guys scare me. He’d been an all-world #3 option on a team, but if LA moves Pau Gasol to make it happen, he’ll have to dance in the #2 spot with Bynum. This situation’s not likely, as the Lakers are demanding the T-Wolves include the #2 pick in the ‘11 Draft as well, and Minnesota is rightfully reluctant to trade their best player, and their future, for a guy who may fall to pieces depending on his girlfriend.
Andre Iguodala will be a great addition to the right team. He’s a premiere wing defender (and as far as I know, LeBron still plays basketball), a great teammate (ask last summer’s USA World Championship team), and a great finisher on the break. Unfortunately, he’s not a great shooter, and despite fitting perfectly with the team’s other wings who play defense but can’t shoot, the Lakers are actually trying to break that cycle. While a Lamar and Ron Artest deal for Iguodala might free up a small forward position, a Lamar and Ron Artest probably precludes the Lakers from trading for Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Deron Williams, and that is a non-starter.
Intriguing options? Jonny Flynn was the 6th pick in the 2009 draft, was immediately placed in a triangle offense that minimizes pure point guard play, and saddled with below average teammates. Now, with the arrival of Ricky Rubio, Flynn is the odd man out, and potentially available in the bargain barrel.
Additionally, I’m not certain Denver’s in the market for a Gasol or Bynum, but if they are, the Lakers could do way worse than the physical Nene, and the sharp-shooting Gallinari, who has a penchant for the limelight and the bigger stage.
“THE NEIL PLAN”
“The Neil Plan” involves moving on Chris Paul now, then compelling the Orlando Magic to make a trade, knowing Dwight Howard prefers LA as his future destination.
Chris Paul is the correct answer and here’s why. Chris is a true point guard, and makes everyone better. We all know Bryant isn’t stepping down anytime soon, but Paul will allow Kobe to play more efficient basketball, maximizing the remainder of his career. Paul is also the bridge to the future. As he’s proven with the Hornets this season, Paul can function as the #1 option (Isiah Thomas-style) for the Lakers in two seasons when Kobe does relent (CP3 will be 28 years old then), but more importantly, Paul can facilitate a future alpha dog takeover by being his usual great and unselfish self.
The catch here is, Dwight Howard’s so good, the Lakers can’t afford to sit idly by as Orlando looks to deal. If the Magic are looking to deal before the season, tear up “The Neil Plan” and move on Dwight Howard by offering Bynum and LO, and informing Orlando they’ll receive no better offer. Mike Brown’s defense scheme with the league’s best defensive player since Dennis Rodman, plus the Lakers keep what makes them unique - two 7-footers? It’s a no-brainer.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
The Lakers are a notoriously quiet team. That’s why you never heard about LA and Pau Gasol before that deal went down. Same with Artest. Ariza’s agent balked once, and boom, Ron was on the next plane. No talk. It just happened.
The Busses are poker players. Everything’s quiet. Low key. Which is why when you hear trade rumors regarding any LA Laker, you can bet that rumor is coming from the other side, and was leaked for any number of reasons.
The fact of the matter is, the Lakers are holding all the cards. There’s no other team in the league that can offer either of two quality, championship-grade, starting centers and/or the current 6th Man of the Year, who has two rings and can play four positions. If you’re looking to make a deal, you’d be a fool to not talk to the Los Angeles Lakers.
And good news, Lakers fans, don’t fret over all of these trade rumors. Rest assured your team will get a good deal because they don’t have to panic.
The worst case scenario is the Lakers start next season with one of the greatest to ever play the game in Kobe Bryant, two 7-foot All-Stars, Lamar Odom coming off the bench, Ron Artest guarding the wing, and a brand new coaching staff ready to breathe life into a battle-tested, 2-time championship team.
(Please print this column out, draw a horse’s ass on it, and mail it to me when the Lakers screw up)