(Editor’s note: I’d like to give a special thanks to Lake Show Life editor Chris Shellcroft who wrote this excellent comparison on Bynum and Duncan. Please welcome him to the site even though he is a degenerate Laker fan (don’t be offended by the term ‘degenerate’ because I use it affectionately). I will have a post over on his site later in the week and we’ll exchange questions and answers for your enjoyment.)
It doesn’t get the same notoriety as Lakers-Celtics but the rivalry between Los Angeles and San Antonio is every bit a bitter hoops feud where championships have been decided over the course of the last decade. So you can understand why Andrew Bynum’s public admiration of Tim Duncan is shocking in the basketball sense. After all, you’d never hear Magic Johnson admit to patterning his game after Larry Bird. That would be basketball blasphemy.
For Bynum it is a given that the game’s last true center would show so much respect for the game’s last true post player. It’s also a given that Bynum would want everything that Duncan has.
Currently Bynum is half way to equaling Tim’s ring count, though some of us Laker faithful will claim Duncan only has three rings. Of course the San Antonio contingency could counter with Bynum only being a real part of one of his two title teams. But that’s another topic. What matters to Bynum above all else is being viewed in the same light as Duncan – as a winner.
Not only does Duncan have a Hall of Fame spot already reserved he’s also got a few Finals MVPs, a couple regular season MVP awards and a collection of accolades stacked enough to fill the Alamo. Some of those accomplishments are of the individual variety like Tim’s 13 All-Star appearances. But for the most part all the details of Duncan’s resume are associated with winning.
Bynum’s lone All-Star selection leaves him plenty of work to do before he’s mentioned in the same hoops encyclopedia as Duncan. That All-Star selection was one personal goal Drew openly discussed. It’s also the incident that many point to as the explosion of Bynum’s self confidence bordering on arrogance.
Here is where Drew has the most work to do before he can think of climbing Mt. Duncan.
You see no player has won with more humility and grace in all of sports than Duncan has. He’s also handled losing with the same dignity. In an era of primetime free agency decisions and steroid scandals Duncan shines as a throwback professional.
Bynum’s classless act committed against JJ Barea combined with his indifference towards coaching discipline leaves much to be desired. Makes you wonder how he would deal with being coached by a no nonsense disciplinarian like Greg Popovich.
Also makes you wonder what Bynum would be without Duncan. Andrew never hides the fact that much of his game was learned by watching Duncan. The sleek footwork in the post, the omnipresence on the boards, the ability to get out in transition, all taken directly from the book of Duncan and all intended for Bynum to earn his spot next to Tim in hoops immortality.
Much like how unappreciated the Lakers-Spurs rivalry is so too are Duncan’s contributions to the game, or so says Bynum. Drew feels Duncan’s talents aren’t fully appreciated in an age when appearances in highlight reels mean more than appearances in championship parades. In that instance Bynum wants something Duncan has never gained – universal fame.
Like all understudies Bynum admires Duncan but wants to go one step further than his mentor. Drew desires all of the accomplishments but also wants the recognition than comes with it. Playing in Los Angeles definitely helps but in the end it will be whether or not Bynum can become a franchise big man like Duncan that will decide his destiny. It’s not the Kobe-Jordan comparison but one day the Duncan-Bynum debate could be the hoops aficionado’s argument of choice. That is if Bynum can come close to attaining all that Duncan has.