This is the second of two parts.
L.A. Times: If the Lakers’ decision to draft 17-year-old Andrew Bynum had been either a heartwarming Cinderella story or Looney Tunes, the best and worst was yet to come.
How many teens molder on an NBA bench, are called out by the team’s unhappy superstar and wind up winning the big guy over and saving the day?
That’s what happened to Bynum, whom Kobe Bryant railed about trading . . . before Bryant decided he wanted to be the one to go . . . after which Bynum became a monster and Bryant did what he so rarely does: reconsider.
Even with Bynum’s season ending Jan. 13, his giant leap had already turned Bryant around. If Bynum was unable to return last spring as the Lakers advanced to the Finals, Bryant now knew what he had in the young center.
“He’s a legitimate, 7-1, long-wing-span, natural shot blocker,” Bryant said, “so add Andrew, it takes us to another level defensively.”
When they found themselves being outrebounded in their second-round series with Utah, Bryant was asked if that was the first time they had missed Bynum.
“We’ve missed Andrew the whole time,” he said.
The secret is out. CBS Sportsline just ranked Bynum No. 3 among NBA centers in potential impact this season, behind Dwight Howard and Yao Ming . . . ahead of No. 4 Shaquille O’Neal.
All it took were three of the wildest seasons the Lakers had ever seen.