x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bynum falling short of living up to his potential

Injuries and immaturity stunting his growth as a player

Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum, right, drives against Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Freeland. The Cavaliers have suspended Bynum indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. David Richard / USA Today
Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum, right, drives against Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Freeland. The Cavaliers have suspended Bynum indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. David Richard / USA Today

Andrew Bynum was going to be a monster in the middle. That was what Los Angeles Lakers officials thought when they used a first-round draft pick on him in 2005, taking him 10th overall, right out of high school.

He was only 17 when he joined the team, and he faced a huge learning curve. But the Lakers loved his 7-foot frame and soft hands, and they were certain he would one day be an elite centre. Only it was always one step forward, two back. He could seem dominant at one moment, flat-footed the next.

He had issues on and off the court. He was ejected in the 2011 play-offs for taking a swing at the little Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Barea. He stormed off the court, ripping off his jersey. He would not join team huddles, admitted after one game that he was not trying, and was caught more than once parking his sports car in a place reserved for the disabled.

While the Lakers waited for him to mature, he battled knee problems, but two years ago he averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds. Then he was part of a four-team trade that sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers. After surgery on both knees, he never played for the Sixers.

He signed a two-year deal in the off-season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, reuniting with ex-Lakers coach Mike Brown. A failed experiment. On Saturday, he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and is on the trading block. He is still just 26, but between his knees and his head, his looks a disappointing career.

sports@thenational.ae