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Andrew Bynum has turned a corner in managing his injuries

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There Lakers Coach Phil Jackson stood outside the locker room before a game in March, imagining brighter days ahead for Andrew Bynum. He shared how his conditioning level changed partly because of his willingness to arrive to practice early so he could work on his strength. Jackson predicted Bynum would become an All-Star center "someday." And when I asked Jackson whether Bynum had learned to overcome the psychological component of worrying about his injury history, he pointed to that factor as a significant part of Bynum's growth.

"Just going to Memphis to play a game in January was a concern for Andrew. He had a six-point night or something like that," Jackson said of Bynum, who missed 46 regular-season games in the 2007-08 season because of a partially dislocated kneecap suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies. Bynum was sidelined for 32 games last season because of a right-knee injury, also suffered against Memphis. "He's carried the injuries he's had against Memphis the last two seasons with him on that road trip "Even though one was at home and the other one was in Memphis, they both happened in January. It was a mindset. He had to overcome just that thought or that suspicion that hit him. I think he's pretty clear with that now."

The backdrop of this conversation proved to be a bad omen. Bynum strained his left Achilles' tendon later that night after running up the court in the third quarter during an uneventful regular-season game against Minnesota in March, causing him to miss the final 13 regular-season games. The injury woes continued in the postseason when Bynum hyperextended his right knee during Game 6 of the Lakers' first-round series against Oklahoma.

Laker fans have tested their patience level with Bynum, who has yet to reach his full potential because of what he acknowledged as an "injury-prone" career thus far. The conversation that took place before the Lakers-Minnesota game perfectly illustrated how one moment it can appear that Bynum's on the upswing, and the next moment another injury happens. That's why it wasn't surprising that fans openly shared their suspicions after the team announced Wednesday that Bynum will have surgery for the second time in three years on his right knee on July 28. That's 10 days after the date Bynum originally planned to have it,  although The Times' Broderick Turner  wrote that the delay merely points to the fact that Bynum's doctor, Dr. David Altchek, didn't have an appointment available until later this month. Turner quotes Lakers spokesman John Black as saying, "Supposedly he'll be 100% by training camp," although he adds that the team will have a more definitive timetable after Bynum has the surgery.

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I understand the never-ending anxiety regarding Bynum's injury, and I'll admit I'm not fully confident myself that Bynum can get through a season injury-free. But the way he responded to his  injuries in the 2009-10 season shows he's managed to handle his injuries better and has learned to remain effective despite them.

When Jackson arrived at practice the day after Bynum strained his Achilles' tendon, he noticed Bynum had the same even-keeled approach immediately after his latest injury. It would've been understandable had Bynum sulked. He wanted to get through one full season without suffering a major injury. He had also entered the contest against the Timberwolves averaging 15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 56.8% shooting in March, including a four-game stretch where he posted 20 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on a clip at 63.3%. With frustrations often getting the best of Bynum, I asked Jackson at the time whether his optimistic outlook served as an example of his growth in handling adversity.

"There wasn't as much remorse and ruing the fact that it happened and what it could possibly have been," Jackson said after practice that day. "I was kind of pleased with that."

The Lakers were also pleased with how Bynum responded. He took medicine to help alleviate the pain that extended from his calf muscle to his Achilles' tendon. He alternated between using ice and heat compression, going through laser therapy and wearing a boot. Bynum became fully healthy once the playoffs began, and he exceeded expectations with 13 points in 30 minutes in the Lakers' 87-79 Game 1 victory over the Thunder, surpassing the 24 minutes Jackson originally thought Bynum could play. 

The enthusiasm among Laker fans proved to be short-lived, however, because Bynum injured his knee five games later and his effectiveness was limited throughout the rest of the postseason. But after missing the 2008 NBA Finals and most of the 2009 playoffs, Bynum blocked out the pain, knowing his teammates were playing through injuries and this was an opportunity to prove his maturity. He constantly received treatment to minimize the swelling. He drained his knee twice during the NBA Finals, a procedure he had previously opposed because of his fear of needles. And even through his physical limitations, Bynum's presence alone caused matchup problems, discouraged opponents from driving to the basket and provided another option for easy rebounds and putbacks, resulting in an of average of 7.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 25 minutes during the NBA Finals against Boston. He shared during his exit interview that he planned to work out with a Lakers trainer in Los Angeles and Vancouver after his surgery to rehab his knee and improve his core strength, with both approaches intended as preventative measures against future injuries.

Regardless of how Bynum's career turns out, the 2009-2010 season proved to be a significant turning point. Bynum should be lauded for learning how to play alongside Pau Gasol. More importantly, Bynum should be lauded for learning how to play through injuries. He won universal praise in the locker room, never made excuses and took pride in contributing on hustle points. Sure, his surgery may be followed by more setbacks regarding his health. But if that happens, fans should be comforted in knowing that Bynum will do whatever it takes to fight through them and still remain effective.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum battles Boston center Rasheed Wallace for a rebound in Game 7 of this year's NBA Finals. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum has the upper hand for an offensive rebound in a battle with Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love during a regular season game in March. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (140)

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@ Dan_NBAExpert - you are an expert sir! i can vouch for that!


" We're not going to get anything better than DJ or Kurt at C and Tmac/Barnes/SB/Stackhouse for a backup wing, it is what it is. We can only hope whoever we sign is productive, healthy, and gives it their all.

@ raiderlaker1980 - yes, yes , yes and some more yes... well said!


Posted by: LAL818 | July 21, 2010 at 03:20 PM

"dan..." wrapped it all up without losing his credibility as a laker fan. it kills me how some guys/gals just have this blind allegiance and fail to recognize some of the team's weaknesses and yes: BYNUM is a big IF... for now, our choices are few but i think something significant will happen before next year's trade deadline and Sasha will definitely be part of package - expiring contract is too valuable to ignore.

Jon K - you think Stern would have a problem with that kind of collusion? Oh - yeah that's right - he's never heard of the word. Never mind....


Going back to Jeremy Lin profiled as Chinese-Taiwanes. He is a 2nd generation American whose ancestry is from Taiwan. Is he different to many of you in this blog, try to trace your ancestry by going back to 4th to 5th generation. Having a Chinese surname, he's attractive to the motherland of his parents but you have to distinguish him from Sun Yue or Yao Ming who are purely Chinese from Peoples Republic of China. Jeremy is a full blooded American born in California in 1988. I'm just to clear some misinformation out there.

ouchhhhhhhh -

Yes I admit I have 5 Shaq jerseys...2 gold, 2 purple, 1 cheapo one...I had 2 of each color one for me and one for my wife (her fav at the time)...The fifth one was a present to my son, which he threw back at me, asking for a Kobe one...

Shaq was my favorite Laker at that time...but the 2004 season really wore on me, and his harsh words on the way out was the last straw...

Kobe is my favorite currently, but Magic is still my GLOAT...but that could change after this season, if we 3Peat...

I have 7 Kobe jerseys total...a #8 in Sunday white, #8 in Home gold, #8 in Road purple, #8 in black, #24 in Sunday white, #24 in Road purple, and #24 in Home gold...

I would like to get Kobe's throwback baby blue, Team USA, and one of his All Star jerseys to complete my collection...Hopefully I can afford to before he retires...

hey wheres mamba24? i havnt seen the guy today?

ouchhhhhhhh -

I forgot to mention, I always wear a jersey when watching a Laker game live or on the tube...I coordinate the color to what the team will be wearing that game...One of the symptoms of my Lakerholism...lol

And yes, if I fail to do so, and we lose that game, I take blame for jinxing them...

But that is how I roll, silly or not...

The Philadelphia 76ers have signed free-agent center Tony Battie

The 6-foot-11 Battie has averaged 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds over 12 NBA seasons. He has also appeared in 51 playoff games and was a member of the Orlando Magic’s Eastern Conference title team in 2008-09.

Battie was traded to New Jersey last summer and played in 15 games for the Nets last season.

just read on yahoo

No to TMac - he was very unimpressive last year.
No to Rudy - he's a flake and we already have one in Sasha.
Yes to Barnes - like his toughness. But he's need to get paid while he can so he'll end up signing elsewhere for more $.
We'll end up with Shannon. And I'm cool with that.

why is lo playing in the fiba? shouldn't he be resting and evaluating the shoulder he claims kept him from peak performance? bynum, lo, sasha, luke - dragging this team. i know the mitch, buss et al know all of the team's shortcomings and i trust they will get it together by working with what they have. buss wants to win just as bad as kobe and phil does. those guys are just "die-hards." they don't need motiviation or told what is expecting of them ... they just go out there and confront everything in this game as a CHALLENGE!!

Pau Gasol
Rudy fernandez
Ricky the Rubio
Spanish Inquisition
Don Quixote

and the 6 th man Sancho Panza

dynasty? more like dictatorship. they r good at that.

or will they be able to fight the wind mills? (sounds like Gassy)

lmao NBA.com just listed us as the one of the healthies francises....

1. Lakers. Nobody in the NBA can touch the Laker brand, which, like the uniform color, is pure gold. There haven't been many valleys on Dr. Jerry Buss' watch, which must be a Rolex, given how the franchise value (now $600 million-plus) has quintupled. They've cashed in twice in three straight trips to the NBA Finals and are basketball's equivalent of the Yankees. Stability and continuity are trademarks for the franchise. They lose a star, get another: Kareem, Magic, Shaq, Kobe. Phil Jackson, greatest coach ever, keeps coming back despite health issues; he wouldn't do that for just any team. General manager Mitch Kupchak, under fire early, has settled in nicely as replacement to The Logo. Lakers charge a princely sum for ticket prices and the house stays packed, anyway. They are clearly the No. 1 sports attraction in a city lacking the NFL. Not all is perfect in Lakerwood, though. Finances are coming under greater scrutiny, and it remains to be seen if Jeannie Buss is a chip off the old block. Still, Lakers rule, on and off the court.

3 Concerns/Opportunites for 2010/2011:


1) A healthy Bynum for the playoffs. What a novel idea! The # thing that could improve the Lakers as a team over the back-to-back champs who won in spite of Drew's troubles.


2) A healthy Kobe. Kobe has been run down by nagging injuries over the last 2 years - fingers, knees, etc. He has been great playing through them, but the Lakers could be much stronger without the Mamba hobbled. The won back-to-back with Kobe knicked up - but just like Drew, imagine how he could help if he was stronger.


3) A productive Odom - For him, a disappointing free agency. A distracting
and tiring reality show life. A bad shoulder. We don't knee Lamar to turn into Magic. But a bit more spark and consistency (a return to 07/08 levels) would improve the bench.


Healthy, the starting 5 of Bynum/Gasol/Artest/Bryant/Fish with Odom/Blake/Sasha as the main bench guys can play with anyone. Banged up they won two straight titles. But they may need to be at full strength to handle the Heat next year (or those pesky Celtics, who may make another run).

Tom Daniels -

the starting 5 of Bynum/Gasol/Artest/Bryant/Fish with Odom/Blake/Sasha

That's an impressive list of starting 8...I like it baybee...and we haven't seen what the 2 new rookies will contribute...

It is October yet...

For the next season, I'm really concern about the refs. They did a horrible job past season...rubbing LeDone's belly, taking the finals to 7 games...

Si' Senor....Spain has been dominating the sports landscape in 2010 from Pau to Nadal to World Cup to perhaps, Tour de France. If we get three good shooters then just add more grit on Americana, we'll be OK. From Taiwanese to Espanol what is next?

Posted by: Edwin Gueco

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

all they need now is a Spanish Pope. so he can replace the fascist one. on a second thought. another fascist to replace the old one? why bother!

Edwin

i thought your family came to america to escape the spanish colonialism. but looks like it is ingrained in the DNA. no escape. in love with the oppressor. close to the battered housewife syndrome.

LEWSTRS

pretty impressive. make sure u r not high or drunk to mix up the colors. :-)

don't jinx the Lakers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ouchhhh,

You got all mixed up:

Inquisition was during the time of Felipe and Isabela in 15th Century.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are characters in the novel of Miguel Cervantes.

Spanish Dictatorship is in the 20th Century under Franco.

Today, it is a monarchy under King Juan Carlos

We're talking here of hoop shooters that will help the Lakers from the outside, why are you so allergic to anything Spanish? lol Another thing Gasol has reservation being identified as a Spaniard because he is a Catalan. They sympathized the Basque rebel who want to declare independence from Spain.

Lots of good responses regarding Bynum's injury. There were a few that disagreed with my assertion, which is fine. But I just want to make clear - I'm not saying fans shouldn't worry about being injury free or wonder if he'll be able to report to training camp at 100%. I'm just saying that he's shown this past season that he's monitored them well and will find ways to be effective despite any limitations.

MM

Also, there should be a new post fairly soon. I was out to lunch with management and all that. Hence why it's been quiet. Plus there's not too much to report.

MM

@ LRob - i think your a little late on the Barnes story... no one really pread what you wrote besides me...

were not getting Rudy, Barnes, or Lin.... but for Tmac were not sure.... lol

MM - you said "I was out to lunch with management".


You really should say you were out FOR lunch with management. Cuz being out TO lunch opens up a whole 'nother can of worms we can have fun playing with LOL!


MM, when are you going to treat us for lunch or perhaps bring our own lunch & have a lunch with you at the park of your choice?

Hey guys we have a new post up

MM

Hey guys we have a new post up

MM

Hey guys we have a new post up

MM

"if Barnes is so important than why dosnt any team keep the guy?"

The exact same could be said about Artest - and look how he turned around and is now a VALUABLE Laker for Life. Right now when Artest goes out our choices are Luke (when and IF he's healthy), an unproven green rookie, or (more likely) making Kobe log extra minutes at the 3. Barnes would provide similar rugged defense to Ron-Ron and also allow an already overworked Mamba to get a little more rest. And with Durant likely waiting in the West finals and LeBronze or Pierce after that, what we need MOST is good backup defense at the 3 and what we need LEAST is Luke or a rookie or forcing Kobe to shift over and play more and harder minutes.

Justa, when mentioned free lunch, our moderator got agitated and hit trifecta.

Sign Barnes AND Shannon AND Mbenga and I guaran-dam-tee a three-peat!

Who would want too face that trio as the 9th 10th and 11th men off the bench??

No haiku today...we are going old school...

There once was a man from Barcelona...
A Spaniard who knew how to ball, ha...
He is tall, but no way makes the NBA...
His mother, "In Med school you must stay"...

Then one day he ends up in Memphis...
He said, whatever, I'll try this...
But after 7 years...He was in tears...
I'm tired of all this bleakness...

Then on Feb 08, a big change of fate...
The Purple and Gold, could no longer wait...
For a healty AB, to circumnavigate...
All of a sudden, Pau fell upon our plate...

Now the kid from Barcelona...
Has a rock star persona...
2 Rings, a Gold and an MVP...
And he is part of the Real Big 3...

So the story is done, and the moral is clear...
Don't be a doctor, and play ball with no fear..
End up on the Lakers...and all will be clear...
So now listen to Barcelona cheer...

LAL818...Barnes doesn't even shoot 50% from 3? who the hell does? Dude plays hard is a good defender is tough and would be an excellent veteran role player. I'd take him over Tmac knowing what you are getting (if Phil & Mitch want that) than maybe Tmac will miraculously regain the form he hasn't shown for years. It is possible he can do a grant Hill style comeback but I wouldn't count on it. If we could have both and lose Luke that would be great. One for the O one for the D. D is important...look at the finals - best 2 defensive teams.

Bynum plays like a person who just happens to be tall. You can see that he never played young; in his footwork, and his body language. If you have ever played basketball with someone who has never played before, you immediately can tell; they dribble with two hands, travel, cannot jump off one leg, etc...It is my opinion that this is the main reason Bynum stays hurt. He's is not basketball coordinated at all. But, he's still has a huge upside, IF he remains healthy! Up Lakers! Down everyone else!

Justa, when mentioned free lunch, our moderator got agitated and hit trifecta.

Posted by: Edwin Gueco | July 21, 2010 at 04:54 PM

*****************

Hahahaha Very sharp and clever Edwin...

Kdzee,


Thou art a hater.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!


Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


GO LAKERS!!!

Mark Medina,


Laker Nation thinks you're great.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!


Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


GO LAKERS!!!

Lakers fans out there CP3 said he wants out this year he doesnt want to wait any longer. He expressed that there are 3 teams he would like to play for and the Lakers made that list. What is his woth from a Lakers exec. perspective would the lakers trade Bynum and Sasha for CP3 and Okufor. if not Bynum who and is a true point guard worth a trade in the triangle system. Lakers fans what do you think?

ynum plays like a person who just happens to be tall. You can see that he never played young; in his footwork, and his body language. If you have ever played basketball with someone who has never played before, you immediately can tell; they dribble with two hands, travel, cannot jump off one leg, etc...It is my opinion that this is the main reason Bynum stays hurt. He's is not basketball coordinated at all. But, he's still has a huge upside, IF he remains healthy! Up Lakers! Down everyone else!

Posted by: Kdzee | July 21, 2010 at 05:11 PM
=====

Wrong.

Tracy McGrady was asked on his twitter, "Any chance of joining the Bulls?" and he responded: "yes, there is a chance.. i love the bulls roster...minutes take care of themself... i want to win" When you look at that in addition to the fact that David Aldridge is reporting for NBA.com that T-Mac has a work out scheduled with the Bulls next Monday, it looks like Chicago is going to be McGrady's new home.

However, McGrady also said on his Twitter: "clippers, bulls, lakers, heat.... but that could change by the morning... lol.. this is the NBA" OK, He might not have meant that list to be in a certain order, but according to his workouts, it is. So if things fall through in Chicago, Welcome to Lakerland. Tracy also said that he'd "def lace em up with ron again". So we have that going for us..

Bynum will be the best center in the league. He can go left and right with soft hands. Only.. if he can stay away from his teammate in the paint we should be alright

I hope everything goes fine with Andrew.

He is only 22 and already gave a lot to the Lakers.

So I just hope that he stays healthy and this season he can show his dominance.

Jon K.,KobeMVP888...

I'm not a Laker hater, and I am not anti Bynum. I just think he plays like someone who didn't play much growing up. Like Gasol, who played point guard growing up...it's no surprise how good his hands are...Do you understand now?

 
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