In an annoying new trend, centers seem to be becoming to the NBA what wide receivers are to the NFL. Maybe it’s not an exact one-to-one comparison, but the selfishness and irritating egotism are definitely the same.
Case in point: the league’s two best young big men in Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard.
During a recent game against the New Orleans Hornets, Kobe Bryant went an eye-popping 3-of-21 from the field (including an 0-of-15 start). Understandably, the media wanted to know what the Los Angeles Lakers’ leader was like in team huddles during that excruciating-to-watch cold streak.
Problem is, when the question was posed to Bynum – he didn’t have the best answer. No, scratch that, he had the worst imaginable answer.
As noted by the Los Angeles Times:
"I don't know," Bynum said with his characteristic cavalier attitude. "I don't take part in the huddles."
Another reporter reacted with disbelief, asking why not.
"I'm resting," Bynum said. "Getting my Zen on."
On its own, that response wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Maybe Bynum didn’t mean to undermine the coach there. Perhaps he just didn’t want to divulge the private stuff that goes on in a team huddle. The Lakers' center would probably get that benefit of the doubt if there wasn't one other example in the last week of him undermining Mike Brown's authority. (He shot an ill-advised three-pointer during a recent game, then when benched and admonished for the action, pledged to do it again.)
Apparently this isn’t just a Lakers problem, though. There seems to be something in the air that is making the NBA’s most prominent young big men completely and totally insufferable.
According to David Pingalore, Orlando Magic center, Howard, is also a petulant baby (our words not his). After putting his squad through the ringer this year with his trade demand, trade demand withdrawal, trade demand, trade demand withdrawal, trade demand and final trade withdrawal, Howard seems to believe that he is still in a position to demand that his head coach be fired. (Which he is, unfortunately.)
Via the report:
In order for Dwight Howard to sign a contract extension this summer with the Orlando Magic, team owners will have to fire head coach Stan Van Gundy, as well as his coaching staff, sources close to the team and the NBA told Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore.
Pingalore's sources confirmed the talk has been "amping" up in recent weeks. According to the sources, the probability of Van Gundy's staff to be released from their final year of the contract is very high.
The sources confirm that if Van Gundy and his staff are fired, the Magic will use the exclamation that they "just couldn't win in a timely fashion."
(Note: Tune in today to the Bottom Line Sports Show as they talk all things NBA and NCAA hoops, and also have one lucky Draft prospect on to discuss what the future holds.)
Much like in Bynum’s case, you would probably give Howard the benefit of the doubt here if not for the fact that he’s shown on multiple occasions that he doesn’t deserve it. Rumors of Van Gundy being unhappy with the circus that accompanies Howard, and Howard being unhappy with Van Gundy being Van Gundy, have been floating around for a long time – so this isn’t exactly a far-fetched report.
Which brings us back to the original question: what’s wrong with the two best young centers in the NBA? Is there some sort of inverse relationship between the rate at which your body grows and the rate at which you mature?
Inevitably, Brown and Van Gundy will get the boot if they don’t find a way to suck up to their big men. That’s just the way pro basketball works. You can find chunky, panicky loud guys to run around on the side of the court anywhere – talented 7-footers are much harder to come by. That doesn’t make it right, though. And it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t acknowledge that Bynum and Howard are being giant pains in the you-know-what.
(Kudos to Twitter must-follow @basquiatball for the title)