Wade, Bron continue to grow closer with time
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are known to bicker like brothers. They screamed at one another more than once during Miami Heat playoff games last season. And when they're on opposite teams in practice, they attack the other like they would any opponent.
Now they're closer than ever.
And on the cusp of entering Year 2 together with the Heat, Wade and James opened up about their friendship Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
"I don't think many players that have the similar games as we have or have done the things that we did in the league can come together this fast and make it work," Wade said. "That communication is there. I don't mind him saying something to me. I don't mind when I have to say something to him. We know how to make it work."
They have so much in common that both find it almost funny sometimes.
Forget the obvious stuff: They're both among the NBA's highest-paid players, then make another truckload of money annually in endorsements. They're both among the league's best scorers, perennial All-Stars, among the most recognizable athletes in the world. What's often forgotten is the ties that really bind, like both having difficult times as kids, relying on one parent at a time and soon understanding that basketball was the vehicle for changing their lives.
James is 6-foot-8, Wade is 6-foot-4. James is from Akron, Wade from Chicago. James loves tattoos, Wade doesn't have any. James went to the NBA straight out of high school, Wade went to college first.
Nonetheless, Wade and James basically look at each other as mirror images.
"That had a lot to do with me coming down here," James said. "There's nothing that I've seen that he hasn't seen, and vice versa. To be able to be alongside him, be with him every day and basically go through the same things on the court and off the court, it's great. Sometimes you're able to sit back and see things from a different perspective instead of everybody watching you."
They take their cues from each other, whether it is fashion, workout regimens or just where to sit sometimes. For Friday's post-practice interview, Wade slid his body down a wall in a room adjacent to the Heat training facility, slumping to the floor.
"Tired," Wade said.
Two minutes later, James entered the room. Even though he didn't see how Wade took his seat, he did the same thing, putting his back to the wall and sliding to the red carpet.
"Tired," James said.
Maybe it's more than a coincidence.
"What's the saying? Iron sharpens iron. Greatness breeds greatness," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "So you see an example of that next to you. Those guys want to be challenged. Those guys like to be challenged. They do not accept the success that they've had and where they are right now. They're always trying to push to go to the next level. And there's no better way for them to do that than to have an equal peer next to them, pushing them."
The biggest question when Wade, James and Chris Bosh teamed up in July 2010 was will it work?
There have been bumps in the road, and likely there will be a few more - but they are making it work.
James finished second in the league in scoring, Wade finished fourth. Since 1965, the only other time two teammates were among the NBA's top four scorers, and played for a team that went to the NBA finals was 2001, when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal did it for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Of course, Bryant and O'Neal won the title; Dallas beat Miami in last season's finals. And James and Wade will get yet another reminder of that defeat Sunday when the Heat open their season against the Mavericks - and watch the new champs raise their title banner.
"For us, getting better is not necessarily going to show in our numbers," Wade said. "It's going to show in our leadership. It's going to show in those moments where we get in those games like the finals where we're up 10 in the fourth quarter, how do we help our team get that win no matter what's going on in the game. It's moreso that, not just how we score the ball, rebound, pass. We're going to have those numbers. It's the other things."
Last year in training camp, Wade and James wanted to be on separate teams in practice, trying to set a tone for workouts. This year, with an abbreviated training camp and the core of last year's Eastern Conference championship team back, the mano-a-mano matchups haven't happened much, their preference being to keep Miami's first unit together as much as possible to get sharp for the season.
That's fine with James and Wade.
"I'd rather not go against him," James said. "We're two competitors. We go against each other at practice at times. But I've found it's definitely better to have him by my side."
When the Heat got James, the team got a two-time MVP, and both players got - of all things - child-care help.
An interesting perk, for certain, but it's just another tie that binds. James has two sons, Wade has two sons, and the kids are all of relatively similar ages. They hang out often, overnighting and playing together, sometimes going so late that the dads are still a bit sleepy when they arrive for work the next day. It speaks to the level of trust James and Wade have with each other as well.
The way they see it, if you can trust a teammate with your kids, you probably can trust him with the basketball with the game on the line, too.
"There's things we knew from afar," Wade said. "Our moms struggled. We both played this game at a high level. We knew that. But when you're around each other every day, you get to really learn the ins and outs. Things that LeBron deals with sometimes, I'm like, `Oh my God, I got that call yesterday.' It's not a lot of things that you'd see that we have in common. But I understand him. And he understands me."
Has the dwightmare begun in orlando?
The more you watched the Magic lose to the Thunder, the more you sensed that all isn’t right with Orlando, that this will not end well. Howard has perhaps his weakest surrounding cast in five years and, as you might have heard, he’s headed to free agency next summer. There is the stench of disconnect in the air, if only because Howard won’t commit long-term and subsequently GM Otis Smith and the franchise are on the clock as to what to do with him.
Josh Robbins at the Orlando Sentinel details the Magic’s putrid showing in the season opener, which Dwight mostly attributed to the lockout layoff:
The way the Orlando Magic offense performed Christmas night, you would have thought the team has an entirely new cast, not just a couple of additions here and there.
Two frustrating scoring draughts — each lasting about a quarter, each confounding — cost the Magic in their season opener, a 97-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And, now, players say they still need some more time to jell after the lockout-induced layoff and an abbreviated preseason.
“It’s going to take a while because we’ve been off for a long time,” Howard said.
“For people who really don’t understand the game, it takes a while to get back into the swing of playing. No matter what you’ve done all summer, it’s just a different feeling when you’re out there playing against other people.”
And it’s not like the Magic collapsed against the Bobcats; Oklahoma City is for real and Kendrick Perkins usually plays Howard tight, or at least better than most. Howard had 11 points and 15 rebounds but, surprisingly, had a worse stat line than Ryan Anderson (25 points, 10 rebounds). When’s the last time that happened?
This isn’t to suggest in any way that Howard is so distracted by his unsettled situation that it’s affecting his play. After all, he called the court “my sanctuary” and only a fool would say Howard is headed for a poor season, especially with the lack of true competition at center. Howard has too much pride to allow that to happen. But the Magic is clearly without championship-like pieces around him and so you do wonder about his spirit, happiness and mood as this season continues. Without teammates with incredible upside and the absence of numerous assets on the roster, you wonder if Howard, in any way, can see himself in Orlando beyond this season.
The new labor agreement gives Orlando a considerable edge in terms of paying Howard but for someone who makes considerable coin in endorsements, his situation is different than most. He can take “less” and move on. And so, the potential for a Dwightmare in Orlando has officially begun.
Seeing how Kobe obviously didn’t trust anyone else but himself with the ball in the closing moments against Chicago, does Howard end up with the Lakers? Are the Nets still in play despite Brook Lopez’s injury? Who else? Where else? This is the cloud that’ll follow Orlando all season or until something, one way or another, is done. The Cavaliers kept LeBron James in his walk year because they had a shot at a championship (and did eventually win more games than anyone in the regular season) but that’s not the case in Orlando. If the opener was any indication, the Magic aren’t going very far with or without Howard.
Can new celtics still handle lebron?
HANG TIME TEXAS – Seasons change and teams change. It’s part of the circle of life in sports.
An interesting angle to watch tonight when Boston plays at Miami is whether the Celtics have changed too much to contend with the new-look LeBron James.
A year ago, whenever James tried to take the ball inside against the Celtics, he was confronted by the hulking and sometimes snarling likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis.
Now the Boston front line consists of the aging Jermaine O’Neal along with Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
Bass came up big on Christmas Day in New York, hitting the boards hard for 20 points and 11 rebounds, which our good friend Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald says delighted the men in green:
“Kid can play,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s tough. He can finish. He can offensive rebound. He can do a lot of things. He’s doing it right now, but he’s second guessing half of the things he’s doing because of the execution part of it.
“He’s late on a lot of stuff because he’s just not sure yet. He’s just going to keep getting better and better as the year goes on.”
Kevin Garnett was equally impressed, though when asked about Bass he preferred to refer to the bench as a whole.
“Brandon is going to give us a more mature, consistent scorer off the bench,” Garnett said. “I actually like our bench — not just on paper, but in practice and in games. Not just Brandon, but Chris Wilcox and Keyon (Dooling), too.”
The question can the Celts’ new threesome derail James’ plan to use the post-up drills he did with Hakeem Olajuwon during the summer to do most of his work closer to the basket this season? While the powerful slam dunks and the pretty tip-pass to Dwayne Wade was nice, maybe the most impressive part of James season-opening effort in Dallas was that he did not attempt a single 3-point shot. Neither did Wade.
As Joseph Goodman points out in the Miami Herald, that’s all part of the 2011-12 for the Heat:
“The biggest thing for us is not rely on jump shots when we need a bucket — be aggressive, put pressure on the rim,” Wade said. “Obviously, me and LeBron have worked at that aspect of our game — of getting in the post and being comfortable down there.
“It makes us more of a dynamic team, and it makes teams have to make a decision whether they double [or] whether they don’t.”
Heat reserve James Jones was the beneficiary of James’ and Wade’s work inside. Forgotten in The Finals, Jones played nearly 19 minutes Sunday and was 3 of 5 from three-point range. His barrage of three-pointers broke the game open in the third quarter.
Even on a day when Chris Bosh found himself in foul trouble and was mostly ineffective, the Heat still dominated inside. The effort of James and Wade near the basket, coupled with the Heat’s fast-paced transition game, was too much for Dallas, which sorely missed departed center Tyson Chandler as a defensive enforcer and is still adjusting to its group of hastily assembled talent.
“That’s one of the elements we’re trying to develop,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ low-post presence. “If you’ve seen us in the preseason, it helps.
It has always helped the Celtics in the past to have the likes of Perkins, Shaq and Davis down in the low post, guys whose personalities and styles were often confrontational and successful against James.
Now that Perk is snarling in Oklahoma City, Big Baby is playing in Orlando and Shaq is cracking jokes with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on the TNT set, the look has been altered drastically in the paint for Boston.
Will the Celtics still thrive with the change?
What player or team has impressed you the most, two days into the season?
Steve Aschburner: Hope we’re going alphabetically (as usual) so I don’t seem like I’m jumping on a Miami Heat bandwagon. But c’mon, even with the lofty expectations many of us had for Wade, James and crew, the Heat have transcended those in this sliver of a sample of a season. The pace at which they’re playing, in particular, should scare opponents, especially those coming off back-to-backs or, worse, back-to-back-to-backs. Feels like a wire-to-wire season for Miami.
Fran Blinebury: How can you not be impressed by Kevin Durant and the Thunder? They’ve picked right up where they left off in June and appear ready to lead the charge in the Western Conference. But for pleasant surprises, how about Eric Gordon taking over the starring role from Chris Paul in New Orleans and leading the Hornets to a win at Phoenix? Hmmmm, does this make commissioner David Stern early candidate for Executive of the Year?
Scott Howard-Cooper: How can it not be Miami? Not just 2-0, but with wins over the defending champions, Dallas, and one of the better teams in the East, Boston. The talent has been there. Now this looks like a group that is particularly motivated and focused.
Shaun Powell: Eric Gordon. He could’ve complained all the way from L.A. to New Orleans, tweeted about some injustice, then pouted upon arrival, stuff like that. Instead, he’s been professional and determined and sank the big shot to help beat Phoenix in the opener. Great attitude and solid leadership from a promising young player. Hornets are lucky to have him.
John Schuhmann: They’ve only played one game, but you have to be impressed with the Nuggets. We all saw what George Karl was able to do after the Melo trade last season, but we had to wonder if his team could sustain that level of defense over a full season, especially with one of his best defenders, Kenyon Martin, no longer on the team. We’re still wondering, but holding Dallas to 93 points in a fast-paced game is a great start.
Sekou Smith: Since it’s freshest in my mind, I have to admit that Norris Cole showed me some things I wasn’t expecting from the Heat rookie guard. His 14 points in the fourth quarter in the win over the Celtics were revealing and probably made Mario Chalmers feel the heat immediately. If this is just a preview of what’s to come from Cole, the Heat might have found that other clutch performer they’ll need during crunch time to go along with Dwyane Wade.
Bynum is on deck for lakers
OK, so the long and harsh winter for the Lakers is over. They didn’t fall to 0-3 for the first time since the 1978-79 season. Kobe Bryant didn’t go on a locker room rampage. Metta World Peace didn’t change back to Ron Artest out of panic.
They blew out the Jazz despite playing for the third time in three nights, held a Utah team playing its first game of the season to 32 percent shooting and 71 points (the Jazz missed 17 of their first 19 shots in the second quarter. Yikes). Even better for the Lakers, Andrew Bynum is almost ready to pull on a uniform.
(Before we go on, get this: The fans at Staples Center chanted “We Want World Peace” which alone makes you glad Artest changed his name. So let’s all join in. Everyone should stick their head out of their window, as William Holden instructed in the movie “Network” and yell … )
The last time we saw Bynum, he was acting like a punk, treating J.J. Barea like a cockroach and getting himself tossed from Phil Jackson’s final game. That childish act earned Bynum a five-game suspension that was reduced to four when the league shrank the schedule to 66 games. You wonder whether the Lakers would be 3-0 or maybe 2-1 with Bynum these three games, but that’s in the past. He’ll sit the next game, at home against the Knicks, and that’s it. Once Bynum returns Saturday against the Nuggets, we get to see how good the Lakers can be, with their center in the fold, ready to make Pau Gasol and maybe even Kobe play better and more relaxed.
T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times scolded everyone in Lakerland for panicking and making armchair trades for Dwight Howard even before giving Bynum a chance to play this season.
Well, if the Lakers can swing a deal for Howard, with Bynum as the trading chip, then it’s really a no-brainer. You send Bynum on his way. But if the Magic demand Bynum and Gasol, then it gets a bit trickier. The Lakers would be giving up a pair of quality big men and would probably have to take back a bad contract or two to make the numbers work. Even then, it’s probably worth doing if only to give Kobe another shot at a ring. Remember, this very same Laker team went out weakly against the Mavericks last spring and doesn’t scare anyone as a title contender.
We already know the Lakers are open to dealing Gasol; they “dumped” him in the aborted Chris Paul deal. Whether subtracting Bynum and Gasol and adding Howard makes them a better team, that’s up for debate. That would depend on what else the Lakers can do, in terms of adding quality help. At this point, it’s all up to Orlando, anyway. If the Magic wanted to make the deal, it would’ve been done by now. There’s the belief the Magic are willing to wait until after the All-Star Game, which Orlando is hosting, before pulling the trigger on any deal.
After starting the season with a dramatic win, the New York Knicks opened a three-game road trip with a disappointing loss.
Bouncing back against the Los Angeles Lakers doesn't look like it will be easy.
The Knicks try to avoid losing a ninth straight game to the Lakers when they meet Thursday night at Staples Center.
New York (1-1) got off to an encouraging start to the season by rallying from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Boston 106-104 on Christmas. Carmelo Anthony hit two free throws with 16 seconds left to break a tie and help the Knicks snap an eight-game losing streak to the Celtics.
While the victory over its long-time nemesis gave New York an immediate boost of confidence, that feeling quickly faded with Wednesday's 92-78 loss to Golden State.
The Knicks led the Warriors by eight early in the second half, and the game was tied at 64 after three quarters, but Golden State scored 25 of the first 31 points of the fourth quarter to put the game away. Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, who combined for 58 points on 18 of 28 shooting in the opener, totaled 29 points on 8 of 27 shooting in the second game.
"I'm not making any excuses, but we're a young team that's coming together and we have to build," said Tyson Chandler, who was held to two points and three rebounds. "Unfortunately, we're learning things on the fly."
New York now has the difficult task of trying to beat Los Angeles (1-2) for the first time since a 107-106 victory on Feb. 13, 2007.
The Knicks' eight-game losing streak to the Lakers is their longest current skid against any opponent. Neither of last year's meetings were close, with New York losing the two by an average of 19.5 points.
Both of those games, however, took place before the Knicks acquired Anthony from Denver. The four-time All-Star averaged 27.5 points in two games against the Lakers last season with the Nuggets. He only scored 13 on Wednesday.
Although New York is a far better team offensively with Anthony, it still needs to figure out a way to slow down Kobe Bryant. In the eight games against the Knicks since 2007-08, Bryant is averaging 34.1 points, his most against any team.
The 13-time All-Star had 26 points in Tuesday's 96-71 victory over Utah for the Lakers' first win of the season. Pau Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds and Metta World Peace scored 14 to help Los Angeles avoid the franchise's first 0-3 start since 1978-79.
"We've got a long way to go, it's just one win," World Peace said. "We've got to keep working, we're still not satisfied, and we still have to improve."
The Lakers saw great improvement from their defense, which limited the Jazz to 32.2 percent shooting and one 3-pointer on 13 attempts.
"The focus, the energy, the effort, that communication and trust that we brought defensively, was exciting to see," said Mike Brown, who won his first game as Lakers coach.
Los Angeles opened the season playing three games in as many days - its only back-to-back-to-back stretch of the lockout-shortened season - and should greatly benefit from a day off. The Lakers are already hurting with Bryant nursing a torn ligament in his right wrist and Gasol wearing extra support for his sprained right shoulder.
"It still bothers me a little bit," Gasol said of his injured shoulder, "but it felt better (Tuesday) than it did (Monday) so it seems like it's under control."
Gasol is averaging 20.4 points and 11.6 rebounds in his last five games against the Knicks.
The Chicago Bulls finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season in large part because of the defensive schemes installed by first-year coach Tom Thibodeau.
For Thibodeau and the Bulls to live up to the high bars they set last season, they'll need to knock the rust off of that defense.
The Bulls look to bounce back from their first loss Thursday night when they visit the Sacramento Kings.
After rallying for an 88-87 win in their season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day, the Bulls (1-1) could not overcome an early deficit Monday against Golden State. Chicago gave up 20 fast-break points and 42 points in the paint in the 99-91 defeat.
"We let them get easy looks," reigning MVP Derrick Rose said. "In the first quarter, we've got to find a way to stop people. Guys that we know can score the ball, they're getting too many easy looks."
Rose also struggled on offense, going 4 for 17 from the field and finishing with 13 points. But the Bulls' primary focus is recommitting to their defensive mindset from last season, when they led the league in opponents' field goal percentage (43.0) and ranked second in opponents' scoring (91.3 points per game) en route to 62 wins.
The Bulls' first two opponents this season have shot 47.1 percent.
"We're not going to get to where we want to get to playing defense like that," center Joakim Noah told the team's official website after the Bulls committed 20 turnovers and forced only 10 against the Warriors. "We have to improve. It's frustrating. Our defense was just bad."
The Bulls will try to better execute their defensive plan against a young Sacramento team coming off a poor offensive showing. After beating the Lakers 100-91 in their opener Monday, the Kings (1-1) were outscored 55-33 in the second half of a 101-79 loss at Portland on Tuesday.
Sacramento's starters went 17 for 49 (34.7 percent) from the field in the game, and the Kings were 9 of 38 (23.7) in the second half.
"We had our moments in the first 16, 18, 20 minutes, then we fell apart," coach Paul Westphal said. "This was a step in our development that was painful. We got taught by a more experienced team that is far above us now."
The Kings could have similar struggles against the Bulls, who have won five of the last six meetings including a 132-92 rout in the most recent matchup March 21. Eight Chicago players scored at least 11 points in that game as the Bulls shot 61.3 percent and recorded their highest point total since April 14, 2008.
Bulls forward Luol Deng scored 17 points while making 5 of 9 shots in that game. He has averaged 20.2 points and shot 55.1 percent in his last five contests against Sacramento.
Kings guard Marcus Thornton, coming off a 5-for-15 performance against the Trail Blazers, has averaged 23.0 points and shot 58.5 percent in his last three games against the Bulls, going 10 for 15 from 3-point range.
Since being traded to the Kings in February, Thornton has averaged 25.1 points and shot 50.3 percent in 11 Sacramento wins. He has been held to 18.8 points and shot 42.3 percent in 18 losses.
Los Angeles believes the offseason acquisition of Chris Paul can transform the Clippers from longtime losers into the NBA elite.
Derrick Rose's development over the past few seasons with Chicago has quickly helped the Bulls move into that realm.
The starting point guards from last season's All-Star game square off Friday night when Rose's Bulls visit Paul in the Clippers' home opener.
In one of the biggest trades in franchise history, Los Angeles (1-1) acquired Paul from New Orleans on Dec. 14. The move pairs the four-time All-Star with the high-flying Blake Griffin and suddenly has the Clippers poised to put years of frustration behind them.
Paul had a solid debut for the Clippers, finishing with 20 points and nine assists in a 105-86 win over Golden State on Christmas, but struggled a bit in Wednesday's 115-90 loss to San Antonio. He had 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting with nine assists.
"We are going to practice and figure out what we did right and figure out what we did wrong," Paul said. "First things first, we need to start with me."
Fans would certainly like to see Paul feed Griffin a bit more. The two have not yet hooked up for an alley-oop, something many were envisioning when the trade was made.
Griffin has still made his presence felt, combining for 50 points in the first two games. He totaled 61 points and 25 rebounds against the Bulls last season to help the Clippers split the two-game series.
Although Los Angeles was one of just five teams to win at the United Center in 2010-11, Paul has never defeated Rose, losing all four head-to-head matchups. In his lone game against the Bulls last season, Paul had 15 points on 3 of 10 shooting with six assists in a loss with the Hornets.
Rose averaged 33.0 points and 9.5 assists against the Clippers last season. The Bulls (2-1) went an NBA-best 62-20 a year ago after winning 41 in each of Rose's first two seasons under current Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and are again considered championship contenders.
Rose, however, hasn't played up to his lofty standards in Chicago's last two games. The two-time All-Star had 13 points on 4 of 17 shooting in a 99-91 loss to Golden State on Monday, and finished with 19 points and six turnovers while being plagued by foul trouble in Thursday's 108-98 win over Sacramento.
"I wanted to be more aggressive and attack the hole. (Fouls) are something I have to get through and can't worry about," he said. "I'm just happy we won the game."
Although Rose never seemed to find his rhythm against the Kings, the Bulls still finished with season highs in scoring and field goal percentage (53.8). Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton each scored 16, while Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer finished with 12 points apiece.
Chicago's offense now looks to frustrate a Los Angeles team that allowed the Spurs to shoot 56.3 percent and score 48 points in the paint.
"Our defense needs to be better, and it can get better," Griffin said. "The good thing about the mistakes out there is that they are easily correctable."
Bynum’s return just in time for lakers
That offseason work with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach should come in handy for Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who will be the last player to experience the changes made to the team’s system by new coach Mike Brown.
With his body fat down to 5.1% from 9.5% and his 290-pound frame still intact, Brown will demand much more on both ends of the floor from his low-post anchor. Of course, the Lakers won’t get to unwrap their belated Christmas gift until this afternoon, when they unleash a new and improved Bynum on the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center.
Bynum began this season serving the four-game suspension handed down after his take down of then Mavericks guard J.J. Barea during the Lakers’ final game last season, the fourth and final game of an ugly sweep at the hands of the eventual NBA champion Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals.
So even with all of this proposed changes to Bynum’s body and the system, he won’t be able to answer any lingering questions about what he might be capable of until today.
“From the outside looking in, you see him getting better every year and you’d think that he would get to the point where he is that,” Brown said.
With Yao Ming retired and Tim Duncan’s skill set in decline, All-Star voting will be wide open at the center position for the Western Conference.
There’s no question the Lakers are a different team with a healthy and focused Bynum on the floor.
According to NBA.com StatsCube, the Lakers allowed just 100.7 points per 100 possessions with Bynum on the floor over the previous four seasons, compared to 102.4 when Bynum was on the bench. Grated, their best defensive big-man combination during that stretch was Bynum and Lamar Odom (since traded to the Mavericks). They allowed just 97.6 points per 100 possessions with that combo on the floor from 2007-08 through 2010-11, compared to 100.8 with Odom and Pau Gasol on the floor and 103.2 with Bynum and Gasol on the floor.
Of course, the Lakers have been doing fine defensively without Bynum and Odom. Through Friday, they rank fifth in the league (behind Indiana, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Portland), allowing just 93.7 points per 100 possessions.
We’ll have to wait and see if Bynum’s return produces the sort of benefits the Lakers expect or if he continues to be the sort of enigmatic force that has drawn the ire of Lakers star Kobe Bryant at times throughout their tenure together.
There are some in Los Angels questioning the new and improved Bynum, namely Times columnist T.J. Simers, who skewered Bynum in his column after the big man ran into repeated troubles with the city’s traffic cops in recent days, and questioned if Bynum has the drive to grow up and reach his full potential on and off the court:
I had written about the need for Bynum to report back to work as a grownup after his four-game suspension. Obviously I’m not clairvoyant.
I was unaware he had been stopped by the police a day earlier as well and given a “fix-it” ticket for improperly functioning taillights and having no license plates.
Kids are known for lapses in judgment, so maybe he hasn’t grown up as much as I had hoped. The guy owns 13 cars at last count and he’s picking the one with the bad taillight and no license plates?
I am guessing it’s the toughest decision he has to make every day: Which car do I take? Can you imagine keeping track of 13 different sets of keys?
When I wrote about Bynum, I thought we’d have to wait until his return Saturday to see if he’s matured.
But after Bynum was stopped twice by the police in a span of two days while on suspension, I was curious to know whether he was holding himself accountable as an adult.
We’ll have plenty of answers to all of these questions and more after Bynum gets his season started, which couldn’t come at a better time for the Lakers.