After weeks of speculation, it has been confirmed by the NBA, the Indiana Pacers have signed two-time champion center, Andrew Bynum, for the rest of the 2013-2014 season. Although the 7-foot, two-time champion is largely regarded as a good late-season pick up for Indiana, experts agree Bynum will have to prove he belongs back in the NBA ranks.
Bynum at age 17, became the youngest player to play in NBA history, after being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005. The young center, while developing his game in LA, would go on to win two titles with the team under super-star coach, Phil Jackson. The first ring would be against the Orlando Magic in 2009, lead by another young center Dwight Howard. The Magic were defeated handedly thanks to Bynum’s presence on Howard and the Laker’s hall of fame cast. Bynum’s second ring would come the following year against the legendary rivals of the Lakers, the Boston Celtics . The epic seven game series landed game seven in Los Angeles, where Jackson and the Lakers proved victorious.
The Lakers center would have a breakout 2011 season, compiling his best season stats as a pro. Bynum however, would leave the Lakers after a second round playoff sweep, by Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks, the last game of which he was ejected for a flagrant two foul on Dallas guard J.J. Barrea. The foul resulted in a series of suspensions for the center, and another knock on his already declining reputation.
Andrew, throughout his years on the Lakers, was notorious for getting tickets for parking in handicap spots, alluding to Bynum having issues with entitlement. His reputation was not helped either after signing with the Philadelphia 76ers and sitting out the entire season. Nor was his reputation revered when he preceded to test free agency and went to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bynum was quoted to have wanted to have retired his NBA career with Philly, where he did not even give them one minute of actual playing time. He would later be waived by the Cavaliers, after refusing to have participated in regular season road games, working as a negative influence on team players.
The outspoken champ, is given another chance after being signed by the Pacers who believe their extensive leadership prone players can help put Bynum back in the right direction. David West of the Pacers, has been credited with being one of the greatest team leaders in the league today, and the organization has full confidence in his ability to help the still under 30 center.
The Indiana Pacers have beaten the Miami Heat for the first place seed in the Eastern Conference for the majority of the season, making the first place team an optimal landing spot for the 26-year old.
Larry Bird apart of the Indiana front executive office, understands it may take some time for the young center to get acclimated to the Indiana system. Bird being one of the NBA’s most respected players and humble big men, will help Bynum put basketball into perspective. Andrew Bynum has signed with the Pacers, his fourth team in three years and the possibilities are endless.
By Zane Foley