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Talking with: Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum has only been an NBA player for one season, but already carries a few distinctions.  The last high school kid drafted as a lottery pick (and unless the league changes its recently implemented rules, that ain't changing anytime soon).  A definitive symbol of the Lakers rebuilding for the future.  A would-be heir to the throne held by a string of dominant purple and gold big men.  It's a lot to throw on the shoulders of a project more raw than a side of uncooked beef, but that's about the size of things for Bynum these days.  The kid who hasn't spent a year as a legal voter has an undeniably full plate as he prepares for his second season.

Bynum's rookie campaign was a mix of occasional highlights (those three minutes against Shaq trail only "81" and the Lakers-Suns series as the 2006 season's most exciting moment), typical rookie lumps (not much meaningful action from March on) and learning (basically every minute he was awake).  His sophomore effort will be closely watched as the kid gloves slowly get removed in evaluating Bynum's progress.  Fans will still need to show patience, and in turn, the young center will need to show more consistency.  We caught up with Bynum by phone on Tuesday to find out his thoughts on a rookie season passed, his expectations for 2007, and the pressures involved with picking up where the Big Fella left off.  Here's what he had to say.

Andrew Kamenetzky: So how's your offseason been going?

Andrew Bynum: My offseason's been going pretty well.  I had a decent summer league and I've been working out hard all summer.  I took only four weeks off the whole summer.  Two in the beginning and two when I went to Aruba. And then I came back and started working out again.

AK: How was Aruba?

AB: Aruba was really nice, what everyone talks about.  It was nice weather and everything.  White beaches.  A nice little getaway.

AK: How hard was it to get back into the gym after a couple weeks in Aruba?

AB: It wasn't very hard.  I have to admit, I was missing the gym a little bit.  There was no way for me to really work out in Aruba.  I was in great shape and then I kind of lost it a little bit, so I was anxious to get back in the gym.

AK: What specifically have you been working on during the offseason?

AB: I hit the weights really really hard.  I've gotten a lot stronger.  Also, I've been working with Kareem on developing a hook shot and having a go-to move and a counter move.  Pretty much all-around game.  They say you're supposed to work on one thing and make that better.  Every summer, I've kind of targeted a lot of different areas.  Defense is included in that.

Brian Kamenetzky: Comparing this summer to last summer, where do you think you were able to make your progress?

AB: Last summer for me was really developing an offensive game, developing a go-to move and then getting in shape.  This summer was more about developing counters, a counter to the go-to move.  Getting a lot stronger physically, so that I can take the wear and tear of being on the block.  And also, focusing a little bit on defense.  Last year, we got beat off the pick and roll a lot, so that was a focus.  And again, like I said, just offense.  Pounding left handed and right handed hooks.  Jump shots.  Things like that.

AK:  What are you weighing in at these days?  You looked bigger during the Summer League games.

AB:  Anywhere from 285 to 289.  It fluctuates. 

BK:  And how much of that fitness was done to make sure you looked good in Aruba?

AB:  (Laughs) I didn't even know I was going in the early summer, so not much.

AK: How would you assess your summer league performances?

AB:  I had a few good games and a couple of poor games.  I think one was against Dallas and the other was against Memphis.  I couldn't get the ball against Memphis.  They did a good job.  The big kid from Greece (Andreas Glyniadikas) was high siding and he had help from behind and I got frustrated, so I just stopped working hard, calling for the ball and holding my position.  Kind of started getting pushed around.  And the one game against Dallas, I kind of slipped a little bit.  But other than those, I had a pretty solid performance.  Better than last year and that's all you can ask for.

AK: In terms of the Memphis game, where you got frustrated and stopped asking for the ball, is that a mental thing, in terms of keeping yourself in the game?

AB: Both of those games were off a back-to-back, so it was little bit of an energy problem, combined with being frustrated.  I guess that's it.

AK: So what do you take away from that, in terms of learning from it?

AB: Well, I've learned a whole bunch of new counters for anybody that high sides me.  Just to step up some more, so if they continue to high side me, the whole back side is open.  You can go "corner and in," where we close the triangle and kick back to the corner.  Come right in if he's high siding me.  Pretty much just learned to hold my field, because as soon as the ball gets swung to the other side of the court, you're gonna be wide open.  I gained a lot from that, actually.

BK: How much does it help you just to get out and play the kind of minutes that you had in the summer league?  Even going back to high school, you still haven't played a lot of basketball, relative to the rest of the NBA.

AB: That Summer League was great for me, because (playing) about 33 minutes a game, I think it was something like that, that was a really good experience for me.  I'm looking to get some more minutes during the season.  It's good to experience how that would feel.  Summer League is not the NBA, but at the same time, it felt good to go up and down for 33 minutes.  It felt great for me to do that, basically because I haven't played like that,  I don't think ever, because high school basketball is like a joke compared to the NBA.  It was definitely good for me to get up and down the court like that.  It also gets you in shape, so it was good thing to have mid-summer.

BK: You're going to be coming into camp this year obviously still a young player, but it's not your first camp.  You're not a rookie anymore.  What feels different to you?

AB: I have a lot more confidence, I think, than the first year I came.  I kind of didn't know what to expect, other than what was going on, really.  But now I have a year under my belt with the triangle offense.  I'm starting to understand that a lot better.  And like I said, I just have a lot more confidence.  I know what's coming.  I know what's expected of me and things like that, so now it's time to go out there and perform.

AK: At this stage in your career, you'll always be learning.  But do you feel at this point like you're ready for more responsibility, to show the team that they can count on you more than they had last season?

AB: Definitely.  Definitely.  I think that's what all this hard work was for in the summer, to earn some respect of my teammates and to earn some minutes out there on the court so I can help the team win.  I think we just need better inside presence.  We need to do more defensive rebounding.  We need to do more in blocking shots and things like that.  And I think if I can go out there and provide some energy to the veterans, just block shots and get rebounds, I think that's what they want me to do.  Block shots, get rebounds and run the court.

AK: You used the phrase "earn some respect of my teammates."  How do you go about, in your mind, earning the respect of someone like Kobe Bryant or Lamar Odom?

AB: To me, I think the only way you can earn the respect of Kobe is if he sees you in there busting your butt, working hard, going 110% every day.  You know what I mean?  Trying to get better and improve the team.  All he wants to do is win, so if you take that attitude for yourself, I think you'll get more respect from everybody.

BK: Is it nice to have an idea of what an NBA season is like?  How long it goes?  I know you struggled a little bit with injuries at times and hit that wall a little bit.  Is it nice to not have to worry about those little things because you've seen them before?

AB: You never really want to worry about getting hurt or anything like that.  But yeah, I do understand the depth of an NBA season now and how to take care of myself better.  No more McDonald's and stuff.  Staying up all night.  You need to get your rest.  Eating healthy.  Providing the proper energy to your muscles, and things like that.  I definitely got adjusted to that in last year's experience, so that won't be any new thing for me.  I don't know about getting hurt or anything like that.  I got hurt in training camp last year.  That kind of set me back a little bit for getting playing time.  But hopefully the new body that I have now, after lifting and strength training, will help, and I won't get so many injuries.

AK: When you look back on your rookie season, how do you think of it?  Things that went the way you wanted?  Things that maybe didn't?

AB: I definitely didn't have as good (a season) as I thought.  But I learned a lot of things from my rookie season.  I wouldn't take it back.  It kind of lit a fire for me this summer to work harder to get out there on the court.  I mean, I didn't really get much time as a rook, so I didn't really have any highlights or anything like that.  But I just look at it as a learning experience for me and I just move on.

BK: Are you excited to have a guy like Jordan Farmar around?  Someone to carry your luggage and do all that stuff that rookies have to do?

AB: I didn't really mind that.  I was a fortunate rookie.  We had four of us.  We were like the second youngest team, I believe, in the NBA last year, so it wasn't that bad.  All the duties were divided up between us.  I just hope that he has another rook to help him out because that would be terrible to do that stuff by himself.

BK: You're a big guy.  Big guy.  Big bag.  Stuff weighs a lot.

AB: I don't know.  I don't think I'm gonna do too much bossing around.  I believe I'm still the youngest player in the NBA, so...

AK: Do you feel sorry enough for Jordan that you're not going to make him carry anything?

AB: I don't know about that.

AK: How much easier did it make your rookie year having Von (Wafer), Devin (Green) and Ronny (Turiaf) around, in terms of feeling comfortable in that transition?

AB: Oh, man!  Just being on a young team made my rookie season a lot easier.  I didn't really have the problems that everybody else who comes from high school normally has, when people leave him in a room and they can't do anything with their teammates.  We all pretty much did the same things.  We're all around the same age.  At least I had three other rooks that were 22 and under, so that was a good experience for me.

AK: Did you guys become pretty tight over the course of the season?

AB:  Yeah, we all did.  All the young dudes.  We used have a shooting drill team.  We called ourselves "The Four Rooks" and we'd be on the same team all the time, trying to beat the veterans.  It was a pretty fun experience.

AK: How did you tend to fare against the vets?

AB: (laughs) Not too well.

AK: What has it been like for you being coached by men with the stature of Phil Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?  Right off the bat, that's your first experience with professional coaching.

AB: That's been great.  Kareem is a super-intelligent guy.  He's teaching me a lot about footwork, balance, having a go-to move and then having a counter.  And he definitely stresses the importance of being able to use your right and left hand equally.  We work on hooks with the right and left hand all the time.  And we do some defense. 

As far as having Phil there, the triangle is a great offense, you know what I mean?  It definitely utilizes the big man.  The big man gets touches, so there's no complaints about it there.  The offense really doesn't initiate until the block man touches the ball.  And Phil is also a great teacher.  He's been watching tape of me in the Summer League.  We spoke and he told me some things that I should be doing on the block, as far as little things on offense.  It's a pretty good relationship with both guys.

BK: I know you hear things like, "You have to be patient."  "It's going to take time for him to develop."  Do you think of yourself as someone who's going to need some time to develop or do you want to make that impact as quickly as possible?

AB: I think everyone needs time to develop.  But I think I can definitely be able to contribute, at least, this season.  And then in seasons to come, get heavier minutes, more important minutes, and then take it from there.  One step at a time.  I'm still only 18 years old, so I got a lot of time to grow and my game tighter.  And that's what I've been doing this summer.

BK: Speaking of that, you actually got a little taller this summer, right?

AB: I believe so, but I think I'm done now.  I think I'm 7'1" with shoes, seven and a quarter without.  Something like that.

AK: Even as basketball player, is there a height that you would personally prefer to cap out at?

AB: I hope I'm done now.  I don't want to get any taller now.  I think I have a pretty nice, long wingspan.  I don't need to grow any more.  I don't want to get any more gangly than I already am.

BK:  Do you ever think about what your life could have been like had you attended U Conn?

AB: Pretty good, if I had gone to U Conn. But I got to skip going to U Conn to come to, like you said, great coaches like Phil Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  That's the highest level already, so if I was ready for that now, then I think it was a better decision to make.

BK: What's it like being 19 years old in the NBA?

AB:  18, right now.

BK: When do you turn 19?

AB: Three days before the season starts.

BK: Well, I knew I was close.  What's it like to be that young?

AB: You know, it was kind of crazy how it happened for me.  One summer, I had my mind totally set on going to U Conn.  I was working hard to get ready for the U Conn season.  Running in the stands, lifting weights and doing all sorts of stuff like that.  And then one day, my AAU coach told me I needed to give the NBA a shot.  We hosted a workout in New York and got some positive feedback. Then the Lakers had worked me out up in Chicago and they liked me, so they said they were going to select me.  It kind of happened fast for me.  And it's cool to be a young player in the NBA.  I'm lucky to be with the Lakers with a bunch of rooks that were my age.  I didn't get too much hazing or anything like that.  I got through my rookie season.

AK: You're, in essence, replacing Shaq, a legendary big man in Los Angeles.  Do you feel any pressure in terms of keeping that legacy of big man going or is one of those things were it is what it is and you're just looking to be Andrew Bynum?

AB: It is what it is and I'm looking to be Andrew Bynum.  At the same time, I want Andrew Bynum to be a great player, also.  So that's why I'm going in there and working out like I am.  I don't feel like shoes to fill or anything like that, any pressures like that.  But I feel like I have pressure on myself to be as good as I can be. 

 
Comments () | Archives (73)

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haven't read it yet...will comment when I do...but for now

GO K bros! Getting the job done! lol

AK - -good job!

Way to go Baby Bynum - you're def growing up and reading your responses was great.

I think "the kid's gonna be just fine."

Wow imagine seeing SOCKS in the block launching left and right handed sky hooks! its good to hear that he understands he needs to develop more. the kid seems to have a good head on his shoulders. no need for the rest of us to put pressure on him. im sure having kareem coaching you is pressure enough to atleast be a decent center for the lakers. hopefully PJ has seen enough development in SOCKS to give him some decent minutes this season.

GOOD STUFF BK!

Love the interview.

I especially like this part: "Also, I've been working with Kareem on developing a hook shot and having a go-to move and a counter move. Pretty much all-around game. They say you're supposed to work on one thing and make that better. Every summer, I've kind of targeted a lot of different areas. Defense is included in that." D!

Well that and gaining respect from Kobe by working hard. You go big baby! At the end of the day, Kobe really just wants someone that wants it as much as he does...and isn't afraid of working hard for it.

LOL on the Mcdonalds remark. Certainly reminded me of someone else lol.

Bynum's shot blocking and defense as a big man will certainly be needed...and utilized this season seeing as we're really pretty short in terms of big men that can do both. At the same time though, he needs to show all those moves he's been working on...if for no other reason than to have another weapon on the floor. Glad to see KAJ is working him out and good.

I love how he refers to himself in the third person in his last comment.

"It is what it is and I'm looking to be Andrew Bynum. At the same time, I want Andrew Bynum to be a great player, also.

You guys need to tell him to do that more often.

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Good to see he's working on his all around game, offense AND defense.

Also, good to see he's developed some size, weighing in at 285-289 as he said, and about 7'1. That extra bulk dfinitely helps. Sounds like he's really made leaps in the summer, should be bigger AND stronger.

We'll find out soon ehough how far he has actually come.

B.
Cali King

Andrew Z,

In fairness to Bynum, his first sentence was a basically verbatim repeat of my phrasing of question (as an answer). And that set up the followup up sentence. So I think he can be excused for the "third person" usage (which often drives me nuts). But if I get the sense it's starting to become a habit, I'll straighten the kid out. haha

AK

He'll look good in purple, black and silver a couple of years down the road.

Thanks Brothers K, for another example of "Why I Love This Blog".

-E

Andrew Z,

Referring to oneself in the third person is a good thing?

By the way, we're not really gonna call him "Socks" are we? It's kinda lame. I kinda like Baby Bynum myself.

B.
Cali King

It's pieces like this - rock on AK and BK - well done . . .

sonnybelfast,

Can be. Andrew Z finds it's often some of the most entertaining (if not annoying) public figures that do.

AK,

Unless he decides to pursue a career in wrestling it's definitely something he might want to avoid.

Great interview by the way. I've been a little reluctant to give the thumbs up to the Andrew Bynum pick and subsequent dubbing as the future of the Lakers, but he does seem like a good kid. He has that going for him, which is nice.

I do hope he gets more playing time this year, it would probably dictate how moves are made to get us closer to the goal of a championship.

Its great hearing those comments from Bynum. Seems like he has his head on straight. But one thing concerns me. Anyone that plays basketball knows that its based on instinct and reaction. It seems like bynum is "learning" to play the game as opposed to playing it. He's learning counter moves and such and i think he's thinking about it too much when he plays. When you play you dont think about what you're going to do- you just do it and react accordingly to the defense.

Call him the Andyman.

socks is a good name. i think he'll be important in the lineup this year.

good stuff from bynum, cant wait to see him get quality minutes this year. hopefully everything goes well for the kid

that was a long ass interview, but it was great as always. haha

It's nice to hear Baby Bynum is taking his career seriously, and wants to be a superstar. I hope he does start to get more minutes. Maybe it'll light a fire under Kwame's ass and get him working to his potential. I like the thought of those two playing side by side some day.

AK and BK:

That was a great interview. It is exactly what we expect from you guys - inside stuff that we can't get anywhere else. You should have every player's number on your cell phone speed dial. Dump the golf threads. Dump the video-game splices. Be the flies on the wall for your bloggers. Way to go, guys.

I was also impressed by Andrew's responses. He understood what you were trying to elicit from him and came back with some intelligent and thoughtful responses. And a little humor here and there. I definitely love his respect for Kareem and the game and it was good to hear first hand that Kareem was still working with him.

I was also a little worried about my man Farmar maybe being the only rookie on the team as well as the smallest guy. He may need to hit the weights heavy not to defend post ups but just to carry all of the vet's stuff around. LOL.

Thanks again for a great job. Remember, whenever things slow down again, pick up the phone and reach out...

Tom

cool article - great interview
the 3rd person thing was stupid. makes me worry, only the worst professionals get that thing going.
Bynum slow and steady Defense, Blocked Shots, Outlet passes and Rebounding, just remember how Bill Russell made his teamates better.

I like Bynumite myself...

dan the man approves!!

AK - BK,

Great job guys. It's nice to see you guys finally earn your pay!! haha J/K.

As an early X-mas present, could you guys possibly fit in "Talking with: Kobe Bryant" before training camp arrives? I promise to act suprised!!

>_<

Bynum is going to be a good one, and we're going to see his development from the very start, just like Kobe. Now, thats special.

Great work, guys. Bynum is one of the big keys to this franchise and its GM. It Bynum develops nicely (and quickly), it will provide a tremendous surge in the post-Shaq era. If he doesn't, Mitch and the Busses look like chumps.
If he develops well, Phil and Kobe have a chance to make something of the next two seasons.
There's a lot riding on his young shoulders. Jerry Buss has always liked high stakes, and that's what this is.

Roland Lazenby
author of The Show

That interview with socks was awsome and it is good to hear that he is saying all the right things and looks like he wants to work hard to get to be good. There is no way that Bynum won't be a great playere in this league in 2 to 3 years if he keeps workig and keeps the right attitude.

Zach Z.

Sounds like this young man is mature beyond his years and off to a good start for the upcoming season. To paraphrase: " I love it when a plan comes together." Here's hoping the Baby Bynum is the real thing.

Great interview, thank you

I cannot believe Andrew is only 18, he's very well spoken, he's mature and has goals and works hard to make them happen.

His dedication to working out is great, it seems he's like Kobe works out a lot and tries to improve every day. Love his attitude, I really think that with time he will be a great player. He works at it every day.
I hope he continues with the same attitude throughout his NBA career.

-------------------------------------------

Lamar Odom will make a personal appearance on Saturday in a store in Beverly Hills, but I really don't know more information about that. I heard it but couldn't get the details.

It will be a good idea for fans to go and express their support for Lamar.

That SPL Dallas game sure was a fantasy killer. I'm glad he mentioned that he learned from the experience. I hope to see him develop that "it's my ball" attitude. With his size and talent, it's a necessary ingredient. Hopefully that will come wtih more experience and that experience will come this year.

Its refreshing to hear a person that hit the genetic lottery say he has to work hard and please his elders.

It also interesting how transparent his answers and his attitude are....no alterior motives or messages sent through the media, like in recent years.

Hope to see this guy develop at a steady pace. Next year, I hope Bynum aims to be solid and reliable, and in his 3rd year, I hope he's freaking spectacular.

Great interview AK/BK. I'm glad Bynum knew what is expected of him. Among all the players that played last year, he's the vital player that will give us Championship either this season or in the future years. His role is the focal point of the triangle because of his size and the threat of easy shots in the paint that would easily attract opposing guards, threby freeing Kobe and Vlad or Lo and Smush for open shots. He should develop easy jump shots or short hook shots. He will be fouled a lot so he should try to maintain 75% free throw shooting. Most important is to be effective in rebounds and follow ups. In defense, he should stay in the game by avoiding unnecessary fouls, making good decisions in altering shots, if he can do those little things that will be a tremendous improvement on AB. By playoffs time, he will be known as Andrew, the terrible.

I remember Jermaine O'Neal when he was starting in the NBA with the Blazers, he could not do much because the ball was always in the hands of Wallace, Grant and Stoudemire. Then when he moved to the Pacers, he learned the moves and his effectiveness as the pivot man for other teammates. Today, he's their go-to guy. Analyze all other seven footers like KG, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan, they are the focal point of the offense.

thank you BK&AK THIS IS WHAT ALL LAKERS FAN WONTED WAS UP DATES ON PLAYERS NOW CAN YOU GET US UP DATES ON BROWN PROGRESS THANK GO LAKERS!

Good job BK!
Reel good interview

Two0one7
Yes playing basketball is instinctual but if you don’t practices (yes”practices” the same thing AI was talking about) those moves your can have all the instinct in the world and it wont help you. That is why Kobe practice all of is move so they will be instinctual. I don’t think he reach the point he think he is, he need playing time do develop an on court game.

He's a good kid, but I still would trade him if a good opportunity arises. Anyways, Mike Kahn is seeing the light as evidenced in his new article: http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/5984620. He talks about Kobe being the #1 Shooting Guard and the best player in the NBA. Suprise, suprise there are some Kobe lovers out there in the whacked up media world I guess..GYEAH..

Great interview. That' swhy I check the blog a couple of times a day.

Let's play already,

Thanks AK/BK

AK and BK-

Great interview guys! I really enjoyed listenting to Bynum speak about his many improvments (including his height). I'm hoping that the Lakers can get some quality minutes from him this year. I don't see Bynum starting for another couple of years or so (remember my starting line-up: Kobe,Lamar,Vlade,Kwame,and Mihm) but it sounds as if the young man has a good head on his shoulders and a great work ethic!

God, thank you so much for having Phil Jackson and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar be Andrew Bynum's teachers. Thank you. The kid is obviously intellgent. He is gifted. He simply needs guidance and a way to express his spiritual passion.

Thank God.

Andrew Bynum is the future of the Lakers.

I am absolutely serious when I say that I cannot envision four better players on the Lakers than Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, and Kobe Bryant.

(Vlad's pretty damn good too.)

Thank you, God.

Thank you.

GO LAKEERS!

Jon K:

You are absolutely right. Those 4 players will win multiple NBA championships for the Lakers over the next several years. They all have something special about their game.

Tom

AK/BK
Good job guys!!

Its great to hear that he'e been working out all summer long (except for the added month). Hopefully the other guys like Kwame, Smush and the rest of the guys are doing the same thing. Its good to hear he's taking all this serious and working on both his defense and offense. With Bynum in the game I think we would dominate the rebounding. I mean having Bynum, Kwame and LO to get rebound would be great and then having a combo of Kwame and Bynum on defense would be another great combo.

Hope you can get a couple more interviews with more Laker players. Thx for the update.

Good job BK.
I really want this young guy to put some pressure on Kwame. I noticed that Kobe inspired him to work hard. This will should be maintained.

BK - Now you must interview Kareem AJ. He will give us an exact appreciation of Bynum in his second year, after working hard with him this summer. I don't know if you can talk to Phil Jackson, I (and I guess, the entire blog) would be really glad.

Keep on working, guys!
GO

AK/BK,

The one day I don't check the blog all day you post an article with my guy Bynum?! DZM! Good work. I think we need one from Smush next. I really think our two young guys Bynum and Farmar really has the mindset and focus that will allow them to become star players.

p.s. AK, you didn't tell him that you think he sucks and that he'll never be as good as Chris Kaman?

LAKERVILLE 2006-2007
By: Michael C. Teniente

With the basketball season just around the corner (Lakers camp opens Oct, 3), I guess it’s time to give my analysis of what I expect from the Los Angeles Lakers in this coming season. My expectation is, of course, an NBA World Champion. The beginning of the season always starts out with high hopes, especially if you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. That isn’t an expectation this is based in unrealistic wishful thinking. Why? Because our beloved Los Angeles Lakers have won 8 NBA Championships since 1980, that’s why.

We have grown accustom to our high expectations. We’ve been blessed to be able to watch some of greatest players to have ever put on an NBA uniform.

George Mikan
Elgin Baylor
Jerry West
Wilt Chamberlain
Gail Goodrich
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Magic Johnson
James Worthy
Jamal Wilks
Bobby MacAdoo and
Shaquille O’Neil.

Yes, you’ve got to admit it, we’re spoiled NBA fans. We have high expectations. Not being in contention for a basketball championship is not imaginable here in this great city of Los Angeles. Sure there are transition periods when one set of players are replaced by another set of players.

“All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”

The rivers represent the great players who have passed through the Lakers organization, the sea. It’s a continual cycle…they keep coming. The place where the rivers come from is the rich tradition that has been marked with championship glory. Thither they return again.

The Lakers are now in the hands of one, Kobe Bean Bryant. Talk about expectations! We may be watching, potentially, the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. That is not an unreasonable statement. Who else can say, I scored 81 points in an NBA game? Only Wilt Chamberlain, of course. The only question, right now, is: How good is Kobe Bryant? Well, lets take a closer look.

I knew Kobe was special from the time the Lakers traded Vlade Divac for him. It was just a matter of time before we really got to see this guy in his true glory. That time was delayed because he was overshadowed by the presence of Shaquille O’Neil. Not his fault, but, really, O’Neil was holding Bryant back.

The Lakers of 2005-2006 told us a great deal about how special/good Bryant really is. For most of the season the Lakers were struggling to stay 2 maybe 3 games above 500. To the naked eye that was not a good thing. But when you take a closer look, it really is amazing to be able to comprehend just how good Kobe is. Let me put it this way, Smush Parker, Brain Cook, and Chris Mihm. That is 3 defensive liabilities in the starting line-up that took the court for big portions of the season. It was Kobe Bryant that kept us just above a 500 ballclub with them in the line-up. Eventually Mihm went down and Kwame Brown was inserted into the starting line-up at the 5 spot. The middle of the defensive lane was stabilized. Soon afterwards, Luke Walton replaced Brian Cook, in the starting line-up, and there was improvement there, too. Walton took over the 3 spot, while Lamar Odom moved to the 4 spot.

Let’s start with Kwame Brown. Kwame Brown was nowhere near a fundamentally sound defensive ballplayer last season. Kwame Brown just took up space with his size and muscle, which made teams not attack the middle at free will. Sure he would miss rotations. That was on occasion as opposed to allowing a constant free lane to the basket. There is a lot of room for improvement on the defensive end for Kwame Brown.

Moving on, lets talk about Luke Walton. If the truth is told, he’s not much of a defender, either. But compared to Brain Cook it was night and day. Brain Cook just can’t play any defense. While he was a starter, his man, it seemed, was always scoring big points. Players without scoring reputations were coming up big against the Lakers at the 4 spot with Brian Cook in there. Still, when Mihm went down, the Lakers were able to turn Bryant’s points into wins while Cook was still in the line-up at the 4 spot. But we were still struggling against the Blazers, Celtics, Sonics, and other non-contending teams. That seemed to change when Walton was inserted into the starting line-up. That’s how good Kobe Bryant is! He kept the Lakers just above 500 with 3 defensive liabilities. With JUST A LITTLE defensive help (Brown and Walton) we started beating team towards the end of the season on a regular bases. And that was with Smush Parker, the biggest liability of the 3, still in the starting line-up. We all saw what happened against Phoenix in the playoffs. No need to rehash unpleasant memories.

This coming season, it seems, that Kwame Brown is going to be manning the middle. If we see an improved Kwame Brown on the defensive end of the game, that could be scary! That could spell great things for the Los Angeles Lakers in the coming season. And we’re only talking about Kwame’s defense!

There’s no way we could go through a whole season with Luke Walton being the starting small forward. He is barely above Brain Cook in defense. The difference between Walton and Cook is that Walton plays with his head while Cook seems to concentrate on his shooting. Concerning Walton it’s a good thing that he plays with his head but it won’t get the job done against the better small forwards in the league. We’ll have to wait to see what Vlad Rad brings on the defensive end of the game. There’s no way we can expect Vlad Rad to outscore the other teams small forward and think we’ll be successful. What I mean by that is that we can’t rely on Vlad Rad to do that for us. That’s not realistic unless he becomes another Peja Stojakovic. That’s not out of the question. If that were to happen then…watch out! If he doesn’t become another Peja Stojakovic then there has to be a question concerning his defense and, of course, we just need a stable scorer from the 3 spot in Vlad Rad. What we need to keep track of is Vlad Rad impact against the better teams to see how effective the Lakers will be. We need to keep track of that as the season goes along.

Kobe Bryant, with a little help from the defensive end, will take the Lakers a very long way. The end of last season was “a little defense,” literally! If the Lakers take it up a notch and communicate from game 1 to the end of the season, there is no reason, whatsoever, why the Lakers couldn’t bring Los Angeles another Championship to it’s rich history.

With Shammond Williams and Mo Evans I think the Lakers have improved both the point guard and the back-up shooting guard. If Sasha Vujacic can bring a consistent outside shoot it only makes us a more flexible team. That, I understand, is a lot of hoping. The expectation is that Vujacic, entering his 3rd season, will find his shot and be effective. What I’m really talking about is emotional stability from Vujacic. It’s no secret he can shoot, but does he have the emotions/mind to bring it on a consistent base. I think that is a reasonable expectation because as we get older we mature. It’s the natural order of life. But the Lakers did well to protect against that not happening by bring in Williams and Evans. Those are excellent checks and balances for the coming season.

As for the big men, it all starts with Lamar Odom. All Lamar Odom has to do is continue from where the regular season ended. That was Lamar being aggressive. Lamar Odom must be the 2nd scoring option without hesitation.

In the regular season there is room to experiment. Smush Parker and Chris Mihm, in my opinion, are experiments. In other words: Sure, if Phil Jackson must, go ahead and play them in the regular rotations, but as the season progresses they must be played only limited amounts of minutes if their defense is not up to par. Rony Turiaf must be given the chance to see if he can deliver what Mihm doesn’t on the defensive end. Jordan Farmar must be given the opportunity to see if he can contribute to the Lakers offense, in terms of creating a more fasted pace brand of basketball, if Parker continues to see himself as a street-baller. There is no room for a street-baller in this coming Lakers season. We need professional basketball players.

Last season the Lakers were young. They didn’t get a glimpse of their potential until 2/3 of the season was gone. They came together at the end and gave the Suns a push that should have equated to a trip to the next round of the playoffs, minimum. With basically the same personal, and the addition of Vlad Rad, Williams, Evans, and Farmar, the Lakers, it seems logical, can take it to another level. If Odom and Vlad Rad can take some of the scoring pressure off of Bryant, and the defense improves from the building blocks it created at the end of last season…well, if that happens, I think we’re going to see just how good Kobe Bryant really is. Unless there’s a complete breakdown, I suspect that is exactly what we’re going to see.

Andrew Bynum is gravy. If Bynum comes along earlier rather than later…just smile and watch our 2006-2007 Los Angeles Lakers enrich our already glorious traditions.

May God Bless the Los Angeles Lakers with a clarity of mind in which they envision that they must play as a unit. May God Bless them with an injury free season.

mike

"I got frustrated, so I just stopped working hard, calling for the ball and holding my position. Kind of started getting pushed around."
...A. Bynum

This is the only comment that concerned me in the piece. Hopefully he will develop the confidence in his ability to always demand the ball.

Good interview. I like the fact that he's expecting things from himself, it's a good attitude.

Saleem-

I actually see it the other way. I think it's very encouraging that he recognized that he got frustrated and was pulled out of his game. It's far worse for a guy to deny it, to make excuses, etc. In this case, he's putting the blame square on himself, and acknowledged what happened. I think it shows a lot of maturity.

BK

Bynum:

"I got frustrated, so I just stopped working hard..."

I tell you BK, I had hoped that through the miracle of some mad continuum of convoluted team exchanges that Bynum might somehow end up in a Sacramento Kings uniform one day. Singularly however, his one remark, in almost any context, sent up more than a few blazing red flags.

You think his acknowledgement shows a lot of maturity, and for the sake of argument, let's say that it does, and like Harry Callahan would say, "a man's got to know his limitations", which is fine. But in Bynums case, when frustration makes its appearance, aren't we talking quitter here?

Bynum doesn't sound frustrated now. He is being hand fed and tutored by the best. But can you really be certain that he won't get frustrated again? Less than a 100% effort, while unacceptable, may remain commendable, right?


10x AK and BK.
as u all know(ok most dont and wont care haha)i consider myself big baby s number 1 fan.i liked his pottential and his size when we drafted him,i adored him when he blocked his 1 shot and then blocked 2 on chicago and he even gave one back to parker and stackhouse and battier but what made me become the number one fan is the famous ''A bomb''.
i think the fact that he is learning doesnt mean he needs more work than most center(talking about young big man dont compare him to shaq after shaq was for three years in college) but that the cap will make the results come quiker and better,it isnt the first time he has been praised for his work athic.i really think he is going to be great ,coz his greatest asset isnt his size and his work athic it is that he had the guts to dunk on shaq.u might think that ok it was 1 off.but i think it was just a preview.he was the talent,the size,the teaching,the work athic,wich will make him great but that hearty is what will get us the trophy.
i also agree that those 4 are very important to the team but i think that u might add kwame to them .btw laker tom haha JF is gonna have to carry lots of bags,hope my boy gives u r boy everything he has and makes him carry it while calling him rook haha.

AK,
Great job! Thanks for that great interview with Andrew- AKA Socks, AKA Baby Bynum. He seems like a very intelligent and well-spoken young man. And I love the fact that he expects greatness from himself and isn't afraid to put in that work to get there one day.
Just think, by next year or two years from now (worst case), we will be title contenders with a starting line-up of
BYNUM, BROWN, ODOM, BRYANT, FARMAR!
Now THAT my peoples, is SERIOUS. Especially when we'll have great bench players coming off the bench like Radman, Smush, Walton, Evans and hopefully Profit.
Bottom line, I see the Lakers going deep into the playoffs this year and either being western conf. champs next year, if not Champions. Call it a gut feeling, call it what you want, but I see another parade in LA soon. SEASON START PLEASE!!!

Ken,

"p.s. AK, you didn't tell him that you think he sucks and that he'll never be as good as Chris Kaman?"

Well, considering it's not what I actually think or have ever said, telling Bynum that would seem a little silly.

AK

"The big kid from Greece (Andreas Glyniadikas) was high siding and he had help from behind and I got frustrated, so I just stopped working hard, calling for the ball and holding my position. Kind of started getting pushed around."

BK, Saleem

I believed Bynum was referring to their first game against the Griz' at SPL when he lost his cool due to close and physical guarding of this greek player. Well, if that was his weakness, he would see a lot of that and expect worst treament in the NBA. I also noticed when he gets frustrated for not getting the ball on a stationary position, (similar to what Shaq does when asking for the ball), but the passer is aware of the guards around him, so AB should learn how to elude his guards and screens. When he gets frustrated, he lost his cool and gets into foul trouble. Scouts would detect this weaknesses and relay it to team coaches as they'd pound him more on high siding to knock off his game.

Besides AK/BK, thank you Mike T. for your timely analysis and unrealistic wishful thinking (I quote). I like your metaphoric passages in describing how the rivers and lakes flow to the ocean. Indeed, Lakers should always maintain talented players and weed-out the scrappy ones if they want to be competitive this season or in the future years. So Mike for the river to flow to the ocean, it has to be HIGHER than the ocean or else, it would cause a TSUNAMI if the ocean is higher than the river. Comparatively, if the scrubs of the last season show a resemblance gamestyle in the next season, then Lakers will always be eliminated in every first game of the playoffs.

Sonny-

I get what you're saying, and yeah, you're talking about a game where he essentially quit (or did something awfully close). But I think it says a lot that he'll admit that- even vets don't often say things like that- which indicates he recognizes the problem and doesn't want to let it happen again. At least that's the impression I got in speaking to him.

BK

A competing blog has a nice interview with Kwame:

http://www.insidesocal.com/lakers/

was this official "Call a big man an interview him" week in the media or something?

man they're saying all the right things...it almost makes me believe (lol...sarcasm alert cause I already do)

Mike T's been preaching! literally...great post. ;-)

Go Kwame talking about being held accountable. Man is this a virus spreading lol (though in his defense I've never heard him not hold himself accountable).

What was the blog saying about confidence once a upon a time lol. Now we expect not to see a lot of dropped balls:
"Q: How much confidence do you have in your own game after the way you finished last year?
A: I have a lot. I think now my mindset and my teammates’ mindset should be if I have the ball on the block, let me go to work. As opposed to the beginning of last season (when) I was looking to just pass the ball and get the ball to Lamar and Kobe.
I think now that when I get the ball, I’ve earned the trust in them and in myself to go ahead and go to work.
Q: You feel like once you proved to them you could catch the ball and finish that was it?
A: It’s just slowing down. That’s the thing everybody was telling me. I would be making my move before I had the ball. Once I slowed down and just let the game come to me, instead of trying to force the game . . . it was easy after I slowed down and read what the defense was doing."

I've died and gone to heaven...Defense! lol
"I think we’re going to first work on our pick-and-roll defense...I know that’s the main thing that I’m looking to try to get better at, whatever I need to do." Can you imagine if he and Bynum can be better help defenders...we'd be a TEAM for sho!
"We have the potential to be as good as our defense."

" I improved mentally" HELL YA! Go Kwame.

P.S. That turned into a review...but ya know I'm a fan...and hoping for the best lol.

KWAME IS THE MAN. I AM GOING TO PUT HIM ON MY FANTASY TEAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Returning Blog Champ,

Thanks for the post. It's f*ckin' cool to see Andrew and Kwame grow up right in front of our eyes. I've got to keep an even keel so I can't get too exited, but the "what if's" are unbelievable!

>_<

Yeah, I like how Mike found it first, but didn't share it!

Thanks Mike!!

>_<

dan the man,

How did you know I found it first? I'm thinking the Kwame link. Anyway the reason why I didn't post it first is because I knew it was going up. I found it in hoopshype.com. I said to myself, should I post it on the L.A. Times Lakers blog? Then I said, nah! Someone will do and they did.

mike

Is it just me or is the feel of basketball in the air? With those 2 interviews it like we're knocking on the door. Let's roll baby.

mike

Michael Teniente,

I have to hand it to you. You are a true fan.

GO LAKERS!

Great interview AK/BK

AK,

Just kidding ;) thanks for the interview - good job.

****Music to the Ears of Lakers Fans****

Where to start with that great interview of Kwame Brown?

To begin with, that may have been one of best interviews ever from a fan’s point of view and, as Ross Siler so aptly put it “music to the ears of Lakers fans.” The questions were great and Kwame’s answers were nothing short of incredible.

Either Mike T. secretly scripted Kwame’s answers or Kwame himself has been reading posts on the LA Times Lakers Blog. Or we are starting to see a wonderful maturing of a talented young player we desperately need to become great.

As physically talented as Kwame is, it has always been the mental side of his character and game that’s been in question. Kwame took a giant first step here by telling us not to worry. He has his head screwed on right and his focus on winning.

While it’s easy to figure out what is the “right” answer to an interviewer’s question, it’s much harder to fake the intelligence and insight that Kwame exhibited in his responses. You can actually see the young man growing up before our eyes.

As a person, I was impressed by the maturity and respect imbued in Kwame’s comments about his interactions with Phil Jackson, Mitch Kupchak, and teammate Chris Mihm. Kwame is maturing into an intelligent and responsible young man.

As a player, I was surprised by the basketball smarts Kwame showed discussing adjusting to cutters in the Triangle offense and defending the pick and roll. I have long advocated that we “trap and rotate” on pick and rolls, like Ben Holland at UCLA.

You have to love Kwame carrying around Phil’s 15 and 10 note, his comments about catching the ball or losing game 6. But the hands down winner is ““I can’t wait for training camp.” That says it all for all of us,

Tom

purple and gold:

Funny stuff. Hope your boy gets a chance to play so my boy can give him some easy dunks and layups. Then your boy will volunteer to carry my boy’s bags.

Tom

Mike T:

May be your best post ever. Thanks for the great vibes. Go, Lakers.

Tom

Mike T.

I agree with Lakertom - your best post. Maybe if you spend your time on posts like that and stop talking about Darius Miles........just kidding :)

Bynum is going to be a legit center in a couple of years.

Don't like the name Socks, it make him sound like someone's cat.

Viet

haha laker tom we will see,my boy s dunks gave u r boy half of his assists,dont forget that u r boy is just a rook and right now i m loving fill coz i knpow he will give more time to big baby(thats his real nickname given by CAP),and by the way did u r boy ever dunk on shaq(if he ever does i will jump on the farmar bandwagin,hell i will ride first seat).
and lets say u r boy does outplay mine ,my boy strong enough to carry u r boy and his bags.
oh yeah purple and gold flexes his muscles hahahaha.

Ken,

No worries. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

AK

phill* sorry.

AK,

Great interview. I'm glad that Drew's putting some of our minds at ease by giving us a glimpse into the fact that he is working diligently during the summer. Plus, he saws he wants to earn Kobe's respect, and unless you live under a rock, everyone knows the only way to earn that is hard work beyond hard work.

Maybe the kid's got his head screwed on correctly after all.

--Fearless

ken, lakertom,

Props to Mike T., he's finally maturing haha!!

The Lakers are the NBA. We always come back, we cant win every championship. It just wouldnt be fair to the rest of the NBA. Good luck Andrew B. on the upcoming season. Once this kid is ready to go and Brian Grants contract gets off the payroll look out NBA. Go Lakers.


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