Bill Plaschke Takes Andrew Bynum to Task

Is it just me or is Bill Plaschke becoming more and more like T.J. Simers?

Today, in the L.A. Times, Plascke kicks off his coverage of the Lakers – who open camp tomorrow – with, of all things, a rant about Andrew Bynum’s knee.

Sure, Plaschke has good reason to be sour on Bynum for the big man postponing surgery until after his World Cup trip.

After hobbling so badly in Game 7 of the NBA Finals that he lasted but 19 minutes while scoring only one basket, Bynum blew off the operating room to attend the World Cup in South Africa. How could he enjoy himself in such pain? Easy. He visited a doctor who drained his knee so he could make the intercontinental trip.

What is wrong with that picture? Only everything. Even though he missed 17 games during the 2010 regular season with injuries, even though his playing time dropped to 24 minutes per game during the playoffs because of his knee pain, Bynum gets treatment on the knee so he can vacation some more?

It is difficult to defend Bynum’s delayed recovery. I’m not going to do that. However, given all the injury issues Bynum has endured in his short career, doesn’t it stand to reason that the team would have held him out of most of the camp activities any way?

In fact, giving Bynum more time to ease into the season could be a blessing in disguise.

In recent years, Bynum has gotten off to some hot starts only to be slowed by nagging injuries which, in turn, has then led to inconsistent play.

Look, I’m not saying I’m happy with Bynum pulling a Shaq. The Big Bench Sitter once said that he “got hurt on company time so he’ll rehabd on company time.” This is clearly not the approach Bynum has taken but we do have to take these things with a grain of salt.

Given all that has transpired this NBA offseason, the more time Bynum has to get his legs under him the better. If that means blowing off some meaningless preseason games and then easing him back into the rotation for the first quarter of the season then I say so be it!

If this helps to keep Bynum fresher for the playoffs, you know, when the games actually matter, then this is nothing but a good thing.

Bynum showed some real maturity last season by toughing it out and playing through the pain. His maturity off court still wanes. From rehabbing by lifting skanks to getting his knee drained for a flight to South Africa, Bynum has shown he doesn’t always have his head in the right place. But last time I checked, he’s just a big kid with a lot of money. What do you expect him to do? He’s not…cough, cough…brinding guns into the locker room. Bynum isn’t going to miss time due to a domestic violence case in Sacramento, is he?

Plaschke is right for having issue with Bynum. But for this, not Phil’s last stand, not Kobe’s quest to equal MJ, not even Steve Blake’s odyssey of winning, to be Plashchke’s way to open the season is just sad and reeks of a move Simers would pull.

Mitch Kupchak knows he’s dealing with a young man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders and a bum knee to bear the burden. So GM Mitch cuts his guy a little slack.

“In Andrew’s defense, if he had known that his comeback period would be longer, he would have had the surgery quicker,” Kupchak said.

Plaschke punctures his piece with the following line.

How can Andrew Bynum be the Lakers’ future if you can’t count on him today?

Fair enough, but didn’t these same questions about Kobe Bryant abound when he was younger and calling Jim Gray to tattle-tale on Shaq?

How’d that whole Kobe thing turn out, Plaschke?

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Tags: Andrew Bynum Bill Plaschke Kobe Bryant Mitch Kupchak Shaquille O'neal

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