The first time the Lakers saw Bynum, then a plump 300-pounder, was that spring in the McDonald's All-American game in South Bend, Ind., and they couldn't imagine taking him.
Jerry Buss, who paid Tomjanovich $6 million, as much as he paid Jackson, had no intention to rebuild. Lakers people didn't even say rebuilding. Rudy T called it "the R word."
However, a month after the McDonald's game, personnel director Ronnie Lester saw a trimmer 275-pound Bynum at a workout in New York and told Kupchak they had better check him out.
Bynum then worked out in secret for Kupchak, Lester, scout Bill Bertka and Jim Buss at the pre-draft camp in Chicago and once more in Los Angeles for Jackson.
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."