Over the past few years whenever anyone would tout Andrew Bynum as the Next Big Superstar on the Lakers and in the NBA, in general, it always came with an asterisk.
"If he can stay healthy..."
And as the years passed that "if" loomed larger and larger, as Ethan Strauss explains at the Classical today:
...the mediocre high school player persevered, and became one of the most productive centers in the NBA by 2007. Then the injuries started. His left kneecap in 2008. Then, his right knee in 2009. In 2010, he trudged through the Finals with a torn meniscus. He was still good, but appeared cursed by the instrument that made the Lakers gamble on him in the first place. There was something wrong with his massive body, a problem thought to be intrinsic and inescapable. Bynum was "injury prone," destined to follow Yao Ming out of the league, one quivering, pain steeped step at a time.
Then this year, the Oden/Yao downward spiral suddenly stopped. He played more minutes, put up bigger numbers, and didn't miss extended time for the first time in 5 years. So, what changed?
Andrew Bynum used to hit the floor like Dwyane Wade, his heel smacking the ground in front of the body. It is hard to watch his old jaunt without grimacing at the incredible weight thudding into that battering ram heel. Today, Andrew Bynum’s running differently, his leg below the body, his heels rarely touching the ground.
Strauss goes in-depth on the change--how it happened and why it's worked--and if you're one of those people (like me) who's been watching Bynum's career and wondering how L.A.'s next star is suddenly healthier than ever, this is a fascinating read.