Has Bynum outgrown Kareem?

Has Andrew Bynum outgrown Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

For four years the relationship between the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and Bynum seemed to be a productive one.

Abdul-Jabbar took Bynum under his considerable wing, taught him post skills and footwork, while Bynum listened and grew into one of the brightest young centers in the NBA.

But that relationship now seems to be running its course, at least as far as Bynum is concerned.

Sources close to the team said that Abdul-Jabbar will be playing a lesser role with both the Lakers and Bynum this season.

With his round-the-clock tutoring of Bynum not needed as much, sources said Abdul-Jabbar would likely spend less time with the team and more time back in his hometown of New York City.

All of which seems to be a considerable letdown for the former Lakers captain, who has worked closely with Bynum since the Lakers drafted him out of high school in 2005.

Abdul-Jabbar expressed disappointment in Bynum and the situation, saying that “I think there are things that have to do with basketball that he could learn but he’s getting on in years.”

Bynum said he understood his mentor’s feelings, but that it’s not personal and just a natural evolution for him in his career.

“I understand where he’s coming from,” Bynum said. “It’s definitely tough (for him). As of right now, I have my direction and he’s still helping me. As long as he doesn’t stop helping me everything is going to be fine.”

Over the summer, the two had no contact.

Bynum said that was because he spent only about a week and a half in Los Angeles following the Lakers championship parade on June 17th.

After that, he took a 41-day vacation in Europe and Asia, then went back to Atlanta for a month and a half to work with his personal trainer, Sean Zarzana.

He travelled through Europe with friends, backpacking and riding on trains just like a typical 21-year old kid who just graduated from college.

“I went all over, we did a whole bunch of sightseeing,” Bynum said. “I loved it. My favorite city was Rome. Just the history there, and the art is unbelievable.”

While Abdul-Jabbar expressed disappointment that Bynum was away from basketball for so long, Bynum said it was needed break both personally and professionally.

He also skipped the USA Basketball senior national camp in late July. Though he did not seem upset, Lakers coach Phil Jackson acknowledged Thursday that the team had encouraged Bynum to participate in the camp so he could get more experience on the court.

Bynum said that doctors had advised him to rest his knees, which he has injured in two consecutive seasons.

“I had to take the time off for my knee,” Bynum said. “I feel different, the rest definitely helped me out because it allowed everything to calm down.”

When he came back to the States, he dropped his things off in Los Angeles and headed out to Atlanta to work with Zarzana.

“We did a lot of track and legs. Not very much upper body,” Bynum said. “Other summers I came back a bit bigger up top. My legs were strong, but they aren’t like they are right now. Right now I feel very good, I’m definitely in shape.”

In other summers, Bynum had returned to Los Angeles before training camp began at the end of September and worked with Abdul-Jabbar on his basketball skills.

This year, Abdul-Jabbar said the first time he saw Bynum was at media day on Tuesday morning, the same day training camp began.

“He’s got to figure it out,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Maybe he feels that there are things to be gained by doing it his way. So he’s going to try it his way. I’m available for him, he knows that.”

Bynum said he still intends to work with Abdul-Jabbar in practice and watch film with him, but acknowledged their work won’t be as extensive as it was in the past.

Bynum is in the first year of a four-year, $57.4 million contract, which he signed last fall. He has increased his scoring in each of his first four seasons, averaging a career-high 14.3 points a game last season in 50 games.

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  • Golden A

    Andrew is doing the right thing as long as he listens to Kareem about the mental part of the game. Physically, I think his game is different than Kareem’s. He has to get up and down the floor. He is playing with Kobe not Magic. Kobe nor the rest of the Lakers have time to wait for him. And he needs to be the defensive presence that Kareem very seldom displayed. He was good one on one however, I don’t remember him leading the league in block shots. So, I think that the rifle man can help him with his jumper. I hope he can learn to shoot as well as Jabbar from 10 to 15 feet out. However the hook was Kareem’s unique skill that he honed to perfection. The man with the most points in the NBA. Bynam would be lucky if he ever becomes 70% as good as kareem. Too bad 57 million was not available for Kareem in his heyday. This year will be the test. Will Bynam make it or will he become another average big man that hangs around because of his size? I hope not, I hope that he becomes an allstar. Does he have the determination.

  • ressb

    Golden A,
    First, Kareem got up and down the floor very well. He was unbelievably athletic and fluid, more so than Bynum. He may not have been so in the last three years of his career, but he was for most of it. Second, Kareem was a defensive presence, an enormous one for most of his career even in seasons that he did not lead the league in blocked shots (btw, he lead the league 4 times). Just to set the record straight.

  • ressb

    Golden A,
    First, Kareem got up and down the floor very well. He was unbelievably athletic and fluid, more so than Bynum. He may not have been so in the last three years of his career, but he was for most of it. Second, Kareem was a defensive presence, an enormous one for most of his career even in seasons that he did not lead the league in blocked shots (btw, he lead the league 4 times). Just to set the record straight.

  • Anonymous

    sometime’s you can over coach. and a break is good.

  • Free Speech

    Me thinks the Lakers will rue the day and time they gave almost $60 million to Andrew Bynum. Thats All-Star money, which ever way you slice it. Bynum will never be an All-Star nor will he put up decent enough numbers justifying his wages during the lifetime of this 4 year contract. He clearly doesn’t love basketball. He isn’t hungry enough to go for a rebound, at 7 feet plus playing very near the rim you would think he’ll be anywhere ’round 10-11 rebounds pg consistently but last season, he was very content with barely 8 rebs pg. Hopefully, once he hits a bit of stride and gets a few good performances in for a certain number of games, he’ll be traded for player(s) who WANT to win and be the best basketballers that they can be. There’s no room for social loafing and riding on Kobe’s coat tails

  • gerald

    maybe kobe was right to trade him for players that want to win.

  • Anonymous

    i would say pau gasol was all star material before he joined the lakers, but it just didnt work out until this year. so what im saying is, bynum is a good 21 year old basketball player that has the potential to be an allstar center . on the side, who is the best center in the west? i seriously cant think of anyone right now other than yao. i think bynum has great work ethic and willing to listen so i dont think it was a problem for him to go back packing during the summer. kobe went to europe, pau went to spain and phil went to idaho. everyone needs to just step away for a bit. if anything, its an experience kids should have for self discovery and growth. (yeah, im just shooting the breeze). As for what bynum needs to work on, he knows his priorities and they are basketball shape and lower body strength. bynum simply needs to be healthy to have an impact in the game. we know hes not the primary, rather a defensive presence. (great fouls in the playoffs). hes had two knee injuries, so it makes sense to have better conditioning and a stronger lower body to prevent injury. just think of yao ming (300 plus) and howard (cant back down anybody).

  • paddy-o-furniture

    Well, it’s official.Andrew Bynum is going to have a monster year. Why? Because no one is expecting him to, which is probably a good thing for the young man. Furthermore, the cat can play. How quickly we forget how dominant he was when healthy both last season and the one previous. If he’s healthy this year–and there is no reason to think he won’t be–and opposing teams continued to be preoccupied with Kobe, Pau, and Lamar, Andrew is going to be left a lot of space to use his athleticism. Write it down, this cat will be the single most important piece (this side of Kobe) of a Laker repeat championship

  • Anonymous

    What a great way to waste 60 mil. Andrew has yet to show training dedication and his decision to fully avoid basketball skills training for the entire summer, clearly shows that.

    Let’s not forget that his agent is also Trevor Ariza’s agent. He ripped us off with Drew two summers back, tried to pull the same with Ariza again.

  • Anonymous

    If Bynum could get through one season injury free that would be a big improvement. I’m not impressed with Drew so far at all. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still a project that’s incomplete. He’s been in the league 4 years now. He’s been tutored and home schooled by arguably the greatest player of all time. The Lakers have invested a lot of resources into this guy. He has no excuses for not breaking out this year. I’m afraid we could be looking at the best he’ll ever be in the NBA. Like it or not, in the next three years, we’ll see the best he’ll ever be, and it better be more than what we’re currently seeing or else the Lakers should trade him while his ‘potential perception’ is still high.

  • carl peay

    bynum has arguably the greatest player in the history of the game at his disposal. its never wise to dismiss such a resource.

    looking and listening, I believe the kids head is wrong. and given the nonsense of media and money, who can blame him?

  • Anonymous

    Right now Bynum is at about 20-10. That just might get him to become an all-star when West centers are not being all that great. He is 2 years younger than Dwight and he looked a lot better than Dwight when Dwight was his age. A lot more post moves and a lot better FT%. Personally, I think Kareem has this underlying desire to play vicariously through Bynum. His teaching affects Bynum for the entirety of his career; he knows that, and he wants to leave an imprint on one of the possible dominating centers in the NBA. That will wear down on any youngster at the age of 22. Kareem has been a very capable coach and Bynum certainly would appreciate that, but man, when a HOF and one of the best to ever play the game nags you everyday about your game…
    It’s time to let him fly on his own. Like Kareem said, he’d be available for Bynum, and Bynum will still learn while gaining his own experience.