Andrew Bynum: 2012 Exit Interview

In Andrew Bynum’s best season of his young career, the 24-year-old posted impressive numbers in his first All-Star campaign: 18.7 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting wtih 11.8 rebounds and 1.93 blocks. He missed only one game due to injury and looked strong physically throughout the campaign.

In the postseason, Bynum dealt with constant double teams to average 16.7 points on 47.7 percent field goals with 11.1 boards and 3.08 blocks per evening.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- The Lakers have an option year on Andrew Bynum’s contract, but have not yet said anything official. Here’s a collection of Bynum’s responses to whether or not he’ll be a Laker into next year and the future:”I don’t expect to hear my name as a possible trade, but I think anything could happen. My job is to play basketball. I love it, so it could take place anywhere. Obviously I want to be a Laker, but (who knows what will happen) … I don’t want to go anywhere … hopefully if I keep elevating my play, I won’t have to.”

- Bynum was asked several questions about his personality, and how he’ll always say what is on his mind. At times, that got him “in the news” this season, but he maintained that he’s going to simply say what’s on his mind and be honest, and not worry about how it’s interpreted as it’s out of his control. “I like telling the truth, what’s on my mind and how I feel … people will read three to four words and take what they want from there. My statements are a bit long-winded at times, and the whole statement should be heard … I don’t plan on monitoring my comments … I don’t really care if you guys criticize me. I have to go play regardless of what you guys write or do.” Have to respect his honesty; many athletes, and people in general, don’t say what’s on their mind and stand by it. He’s not malevolent in any way about this, he just is going to say what he thinks.

- On taking his game to the next level: Bynum recognizes that what makes someone a superstar is being able to bring it every night, not just most. He acknowledged that despite a solid all-around season, there were spots in which he didn’t bring his best effort, and that’s what’s most difficult. He understands that to be a super star, there can’t be off nights. “It’s hard for anyone to focus at all times; that’s what makes people get to that superstar status, when they’re able to do that four out of five games. That’s the next level for me.”

- On the major importance of his health: “I stayed healthy, which was a big thing. While the shortened season was a lot harder on the body and not having time to recover, it also kind of keeps you in rhythm.” This was the first season in four that Bynum came into fully healthy, and then went on to maintain his health throughout. “My body feels great,” he continued. “I have a solid plan that’s been working for me. In July and August, I’ll be in Atlanta, training. It’s great because I get to add to my game. I don’t have to worry about surgeries, talking time to rebuild myself. It’s definitely a different feel (from the past).

- Furthermore, Bynum is “most definitely” considering the treatment that Kobe received in Germany, not because he’s hurt – he’s not – but because it can generally improve things: “Nothing feels wrong … it’s supposed to regenerate tissue and stuff like that.”

- Bynum acknowledged that things got more difficult in the playoffs as he was literally double- and triple-teamed throughout the playoffs by Denver and Oklahoma City as soon as he caught a pass. “I guess it’s a sign of respect.” Bynum said he’d take that into account in the offseason as he works on his game, and plans to come back with a 15-18 foot jump shot, in addition to a turnaround jumper so that he shoot away from the double (sort of like Kobe does so well). With his soft touch, he’s certainly capable of doing so, and if you watch him shoot in practice, he routinely drills that shot.

- Bynum loves Pau Gasol. “We’ve grown a lot on and off the court … when we both come and play strong it’s tough on the other team.” Gasol really helped Bynum grow this season, taking on a facilitating role and posting up far less often in order to get Bynum increased touches and put him in better positions. Bynum certainly appreciates that.

- Bynum said his relationship with Mike Brown grew “a lot” over the season, as Brown had an open door policy and Bynum could express himself when he wanted to. That was different from Bynum’s relationship with Phil Jackson, which he implied was less open.

- Like the rest of his teammates, Bynum laments the two games he felt the Lakers “gave away” to Oklahoma City. Without discrediting how hard the Thunder worked to win Games 2 and 4, it simply feels like a huge missed opportunity for Bynum. “This group definitely can win … this team is capable.”

- Bynum on his relationship with Kobe: “Not much more (developed) than it has in the past. We were cool on and off the court; he always tries to motivate me and show me little things whether it’s watching tape or taking care of your body.” Bynum said both making the All-Star team was good for them, but Kobe’s always trying to give him confidence and motivation.

- Bynum said that at times he was great, at times poor in the season, but overall felt it was very successful (which it was, just look at his numbers and how many games he dominated despite a few down spells). He went on: “It sucks to have ended in this fashion, but there’s room to grow and now I’m focusing on that. Bynum said he can see himself transitioning into a superstar, with bringing his A game consistently being the major factor.

- Bynum reflected back to the Dallas series in the 2011 playoffs, relaying that it taught him that you can’t underestimate your opponent. He cited Dirk Nowitzki’s ridiculous performance (“He was phenominal”) but implied he and the Lakers didn’t approach that series the right way (or maybe they were just exhausted after three straight trips to the Finals). The series vs. OKC, on the other hand: “We shot ourselves in the foot. We played well enough to win in a lot of those games; to come out with that result is tough, but all you can learn from it is to always be in the moment and staying focused on the next play.”

- Bynum acknowledged that he has lots of grey hair as a 24-year-old, smiling as he explained it was better to have hair than not. Both of his parents are all grey, apparently.

- In conclusion, Bynum said his No. 1 priority would be to stay in Los Angeles. He’d much prefer being a Laker than shaking up his life by being traded to another team.