Fans should adopt the Lakers' approach toward Andrew Bynum: Patience
Bynum's yellow uniform appeared as sharp and new as the ones all the Lakers don on the first day of training camp to start the beginning of another season. But that moment for Bynum is going to have to wait. Again. He wore it after Monday's practice simply for a Lakers' promotional TV shoot, making his return to competitive basketball a distant hope.
"I wish that were the case," Bynum said of playing again.
This served as a visual example on how Laker fans have tested their patience regarding Bynum's rehabilitation process for his surgically repaired right knee. After all, they were told Bynum would begin playing around Thanksgiving. Then they were told that's when he would begin to practice. And now they're being told that Bynum feels one or two weeks away from fully practicing with the team.
"To this date, I haven't really jumped or made any cuts yet," Bynum said. "That's the next thing to see if I get any flare-ups or anything like that. if not, it's going to be pretty good."
But don't allow your frustration to make you feel confused. You genuinely wonder why Bynum's timelines always prove longer than expected. You ask yourself if his continuous rehab will eventually make you wonder if its worth the Lakers' return on investment to have a second seven-footer in the starting lineup. And you openly lament Bynum's care-free attitude about it all.
But here's why you should continue with business as usual: The Lakers are still adopting that approach. Though they have thin frontcourt depth, they've managed a 12-2 record. Though they'd like Bynum to return as soon as possible, they'd rather work out all the kinks now than worry about them later, which includes him having an MRI exam Tuesday to determine the level of repair to the cartilage in his right knee. And they fully understand that, whether or not Bynum should've had surgery earlier in the offseason, his distinguishable skill-set can hardly be duplicated.
To the team's credit, they've never given official timetables. When Lakers Coach Phil Jackson eyed certain return dates, they always came in response to reporters' specific questions and the answers were strictly an estimate. Bynum's own official timetables were at least partly influenced by the progress he was making, but those too were more estimations than a prognosis given by the medical staff. And when media outlets provided the latest Bynum injury update, including this corner of the blogosphere, the reports always erred on the side of caution meant simply to provide the latest snapshot on his progress.
Don't confuse the frustration over the vagueness regarding Bynum's timetable over his actual worth to the team. You've likely had your patience tested at times, including the latest news surrounding Bynum's return. But don't fret just yet. After all, the Lakers are in the early part of the regular season and not the latter part. That's when the Lakers will need Bynum the most, in the best of health if possible.
"I want to be healthy. That's the biggest knock on me, not being able to play," Bynum said. "Just by taking the extra bit of time, getting everything ... it's going to be my best chance at staying healthy."
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Photo: Andrew Bynum puts up a shot at a public appearance in London during the Lakers' trip to Europe this preaseason. Credit: Luke MacGregor / Reuters