At least that’s what he admitted after the Lakers’ blowout loss to Dallas in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-finals, a game Bynum missed the conclusion of after his elbow into the ribs of an airbourne J.J. Barea earned the former an ejection, a probable suspension and widespread suggestions he’d done more to humiliate the proud L.A. franchise than Jerry Buss’ DUI and zipper problems combined. In the view of the LA Times’ Mark Medina, Bynum “wasted a season-long effort in avoiding a major injury, establishing a defensive identity and showing the dominance the organization envisioned he’d once own.”
Bynum was on his way to solidifying himself as one of the league’s dominant centers, took large ownership of a Lakers’ defense that largely spurred their 17-1 record following the All-Star break and appeared at his most healthy. After Bynum fielded criticism for missing the first 24 games of the season because he delayed his offseason surgery on his right knee so he could attend the World Cup, he proved the wait was worth it with a dependable force in the middle that arguably proved more valuable than Pau Gasol.
Few will remember all the aforementioned accomplishments. With a long offseason awaiting the Lakers and a possible lockout looming, teammates, the organization and the general public will see countless replays of Lamar Odom shouldering Nowitzki and Bynum lunging with a forearm shiver at Barea. That aftermath might not be fair, it might not reflect their character and it might not describe their value to the team. But Bynum and Odom only have themselves to blame for that.