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The Inbounds: Tonight the part of “the man” will be played by Andrew Bynum

Aug 15, 2012, 6:47 PM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers introduce Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson Getty Images

At the introductory press conference for Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, Bynum told the fans and media the following in response to a question about the increased load he’s likely to bear next season.

“It’s going to be a lot more exciting and a lot more fun to know that everything’s going to be run through me.”

This is, at once, the most Bynum quote ever, and a surprising Bynum quote.

It’s not surprising because… Bynum has always been known to buck convention for candidness. This is an instance where the requisite response is “It’s not about me, it’s about my team. I just want to go out and help this team win a championship. And I know our guys, Jrue (Holiday), Evan (Turner), Thad (Young), all those guys are going to be there with me so we can take that next step together.” But instead, Bynum basically says “I’m sorry to interrupt, and I love Kobe, but this season is going to be the greatest Bynum season of all time!” This is what Bynum does. He blows off the conventional for the interesting, and for that, with some maturity that comes with getting older, he could turn into a truly fascinating character, as opposed to the bratty petulant child he has seemed at times the last few seasons.

It is surprising because… on top of the whole “star player basically saying  ‘the ball is mine and I own it'” facet, it’s a bit of a leap for Bynum. Bynum looking out for himself is not a shock. And he’s been known to complain about touches in the past (and guaranteed, if the ball doesn’t find him in the first five games, you’re going to hear it). But this is different. This is leadership in the alpha male model. That phrase gets tossed out a lot, but in a way, Bynum’s saying “I’m really excited about a greater amount of responsibility being placed on me.”

It’s also a pretty drastic change from what we’ve seen in the past from him as far as the mechanics of his work ethic go. Whether you think Bynum is a hustle junkie or a slacker, he’s never really been the type to go above and beyond. You can think his work ethic is “fine” or “completely good enough” but he’s never been accused of spending too much time in the gym or taking the game too seriously. This kind of quote comes with it a lot of confidence, but also an understanding that the Sixers wanted him to be “the man” and that means he has to play like it.

Now, this could wind up with Bynum thinking that being “the man” involves transition three-pointers. But it could also mean that he wants to embrace a workload and offensive usage rate that could propel him into the top tier of players in his league. If you throw out the injury concerns and presume he can adjust better to double-teams, Bynum has the independent ability to score at will, to be a top offensive player in this league.

A little secret is that Bynum’s offensive game is actually better than Dwight Howard‘s. He has better footwork, better touch, and better versatility. Howard is a considerably better player than Bynum based on a lot of factors, but Bynum has the superior offensive skillset. He’s just never been asked to put into high gear. Now, that comes at a price, and managing his energy level so he has enough left to defend will be a challenge for Doug Collins, along with, you know, their respective attitudes.

IF Bynum really chooses to take on this kind of role, and the team falls in line, saying “This is our All-Star, the Bynum, and we shall not have any sub-All-Stars before him” then we could be in for something special. If the team tries to adopt a balanced offense, or if Bynum can’t handle the double-teams and his teammates can’t make opponents pay for implementing them, it could go down the tubes. There’s also somewhere in the middle. But the presser on Wednesday revealed if not a newer and more aggressive Bynum, then maybe one a bit more fitted to who he is. He’s not saddled with the legacy of the Lakers. He’s not being asked to hold up a lottery squad. He’s not trying to fit in with a plethora of talent, though the Sixers have some talent. There’s a good team behind him, a gap, and then Bynum. He can make his teammates better while also rising to be the best he’s been in his career. His exuberance at the presser, being closer to home than he’s ever played, a team that not only says it values him, but goes out of their way to show it, everything points to maybe a new chapter starting for Bynum, one where he exceeds even what he accomplished last season.

Of course, that’s what we say now, in the halcyon, happy days of August at pressers meant to make the fans happy. It’s a big round of hugs and handshakes for the Sixers braintrust. When the Celtics are sending two defenders to front and swarm, when the Nets are trapping the entry passer, when Marc Gasol is bodying up, it’s a different matter. But the Sixers wanted to make a big jump forward, to do something exciting, to kick off a new era.

Bynum is at least talking the talk, and for now, that’s enough to generate some excitement for the future.

  1. 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Weird to see ‘Drew in another jersey.

    • loungefly74 - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:12 PM

      it is weird…

      again, best of luck to AB. he is being “handed the keys to the car”, ya know. i hope he steps up. we (especially) know he has the tools. damn, i can see some monster numbers from him…something like (26/12/3) on a nightly basis…if he wants it bad enough.

  2. somekat - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    It won’t happen right away, but this move will make the sixers much better. There is nobody left in the East that can compete with him down low, he should be able to dominate. But it will take guys like Holiday, Young, and Turner will have to adjust their game to a half court set to more of a run and gun offense, that had trouble in the half court. This team will be a big time size matchup for anybody in the east, not JUST the 5 spot, but up and down the lineup (assuming Hawes can move to the 4, I think he can with a strong post center like Bynum). They would still have Multrie, Allen, Thad Young and Brown on the bench as big bodies. They are also deep at the 2-3 spot with Richardson, Turner, Wright and Nick Young. The only spot i don’t see depth is the PG, but I would think if Holiday is off the floor for any extended period of time, Turner will handle the ball (Ivey just getting spot duty)
    Overall, I’d say they have taken a step foward, and I think they have a shot at then 2nd seed in the east, assuming Rose it out most of the season. They are still obviously not on the Heat’s level, but I think they can play with anyone else in the east now, and head to head, they are a matchup nightmare for anyone.
    With as young as this team is, they could be great in 2-3 years if they grow together. They could also be a team where guys don’t develope and stall as a mid-teir team. But the upside is MUCH more than it was at this time last week. Last year was about as good as that group was going to do, and a lot of things went their way in the playoffs. With this group, there is and upside of a year in year out title contender. Not saying they are, or even will be, but the pieces are in place that it could happen if the pieces grow and mesh correctly

  3. kvanhorn87 - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    No mention of the different style of press conference introducing him? The Sixers used the national constitution center as the backdrop and opened the introduction to fans who packed the hall to rowdily (is that a word?) root for their new 7 footer. A total change of pace from the standard media only stale presser in the teams arena. Not one mention?

  4. lakerluver - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    I love Drew for helping the LAKERS win 2 titles. Wish him nothing but the best in Philly. He’s going to be a big star for that team and also for the city.

  5. sgtr0c - Aug 15, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    From everything I read on the KAJ story earlier, maybe he is still gonna be imature, maybe it was the great talent around him with the Lakers,….. Maybe he is as good as the presser seemed…… But put all that stuff aside, the Sixers are a more balanced team, with decent talent, better then where they prior to the trade…. Maybe. Not a Heat or Laker team, but better then last season, which puts them as a tougher team to beat. I trust in Doug Collins also, bring it on.

  6. fanz928 - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Since when did he help win 2 titles? He played 2 games the whole playoff and that’s helping? During those 2 runs he was like a scabrini player a bench rider

  7. BigBeachBall - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    many players actually want to play in Los Angeles…. kinda weird seeing one that is so happy to be out… oh well… good luck drew

  8. sufferingbirdsfan - Aug 15, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    sixers vs heat ECF

  9. manchestermiracle - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Some players excel when they aren’t on a major-media-market stage. Delino DeShields of the Dodgers comes to mind. There are many. Here’s hoping Bynum finds the motivation he needs to realize his potential. Apparently serving an apprenticeship, and learning what it takes to get to the next level, while patiently waiting for Kobe to retire just wasn’t in his personality. He could have been “the man” for the Lakers in a couple of years, but it looks like Howard will inherit that crown. For his sake I hope the rings he got in L.A. aren’t the only ones he ever gets. Unless he meets the Lakers in the finals, then to hell with him.

    • biasedhomer - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      What do you mean aren’t on major media market stage?
      Philly definitely is a higher pressure sports town than LA.

  10. misterdreamer119 - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Bynum sign with C’s at the end of the year.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      Lol! Your name says it all! Keep dreaming, mister.

  11. lakerluver - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    @fanz928, first of all, it’s Scalabrini. Secondly, don’t make it seem like Bynum was some 12th man. He helped the LAKERS win two titles by what he did in the regular season and what he contributed in the playoffs. You need to look a little deeper than his stats. He could’ve easily have shut it down but he gave the LAKERS all he had and basically played on 1 leg! Without his contributions to the team in the regular season the LAKERS might not have even made it to the Finals.

  12. acdc84 - Aug 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Good for Bynum! Say what u want about his effort as a Laker but he was dominate when he was motivated as a top option. He should be motivated as the top option in Philly and barring an injury he should have a huge year for Philly and be a shoe-in as the top center in the east. Howard is overall better but Bynum has a better offensive game and is a pretty good shot-blocking center.

  13. philadelphiafan - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    I feel as those this article isn’t really giving enough credit to the rest of the Sixer’s team that got within one game of the ECF last year. If, and when, Bynum does get double-teamed you best believe that Jrue and Evan will make ’em pay. Bynum will be the star of this team, no doubt, but I think he has enough good players around him to make a deep run into the playoffs.

  14. passerby23 - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Call me the curmudgeon, but nothing Bynum has done in his career to date indicates to me that he’s “the man” to run the offense through. Don’t get me wrong, he’s big, strong, and talented and he deserves touches. He will score and be a solid player and make the Sixers better. I just haven’t seen the maturity and work ethic to be that guy. I think he’s best suited playing second fiddle to a great player. I foresee him and Doug Collins butting heads a few times. Everyone’s happy at a press conference introducing a guy, but we’ll see how it plays out.

  15. progress2011 - Aug 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    Dude just seems HAPPY !!!! Like a 400lb gorilla, has been lifted off his back (kobe). I have never seen Bynum just smile and enjoy the moment, as he is now.

    Good for him, now he can play ball as hard as he can, while staying in the flow of the game because the players on this 76’er roster, will definitely ensure he gets enough touches to stay in the game.

    Conversely, he would often disappear in laker games because he wouldn’t get regular touches because the jack up artist/ kobe/ and1/ imitation Harlem Globetrotter, only passes the ball when he can’t possibly make a shot and then only pass it with 1.1 seconds, left on the shot clock.

    Congrats Bynum….you have a fresh start …keep smiling and make the best of it. Now we will get to see Howards frustration, when he doesn’t get regular touches.

    Howard jumped outta the pan, into the fire !!!

  16. marksp18 - Aug 16, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    Why is it that people say things like ” the requisite response”? This is an attempt by Matt Moore to control another human being. Moore believes that all people should respond to questions with only “requisite responses”. I do not know why he does not send Bynum a book so Bynum can know how he should answer questions in the future.

    News flash. Everyone is different and that is a good thing.

    Bynum is only 24 and will turn 25 October 27th. Thinking that he is fully mature is a pipe dream. I got nephews who do worse things than Bynum. He is going to be fine and will grow up or mature in his own time and own way. I got no problem with what he has said or done in the past. It is not like he is in jail or was arrested.

    What can you do though? Writers got to write and when their imaginations cannot come up with a story they come out with something like this article. It is not an easy job to create stories every day (or other day). This is what Matt Moore came up with today.

  17. mungman69 - Aug 16, 2012 at 5:49 AM

    No put down of Philly fans?

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