CENTER OF ATTENTION
This is an article from the April 30, 2012 issue
The 24-year-old big man has become a focal point for the Lakers' offense, averaging 22.2 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last 11 games.
DAN PATRICK:How much fun are you having?
ANDREW BYNUM: I'm having a lot of fun. Defensively, I've really been stepping it up. Offensively, I'm struggling a little bit with my shot, but I'm not letting it affect my taking shots.
DP:But how good are the Lakers right now?
AB: If we keep playing hard, we're definitely a contender. We're a team a lot of teams don't want to play.
DP:When Kobe was out with an injured shin, how was he as an unofficial assistant coach?
AB: He [did] a great job supporting us, telling us things that we needed to hear, directing us where to take advantage of mismatches. He's been a great teammate.
DP:Did he yell at you guys?
AB: He keeps everybody under control. There hasn't been too much yelling.
DP:Do you compare yourself with Orlando's Dwight Howard?
AB: We always get compared. We're both centers. Number 1 and Number 2 in the game—however you guys want to decide who is [the best]. I don't let that affect me or how I play the game.
DP:Was the possibility of a deal for Howard at the trade deadline a distraction?
AB: I don't let that affect me. I've been part of every trade rumor since I've been drafted. Started with Jason Kidd. [Chris] Bosh. Everybody.
DP:How is your relationship with Mike Brown different than it was with Phil Jackson?
AB: I talk much more with Coach Brown than I ever did with P.J. I never really got to be a big part of the team with P.J. [until] the last year he was here. Before that I never got the opportunity to grow because we had a great bench: If I was making mistakes, Lamar [Odom] would come in. Whichever of us was playing better would get to run that night.
DP:At some point you might see the Spurs in the playoffs. Do you call Tim Duncan "Mr. Duncan"?
AB: I don't actually do that. But he's definitely my favorite player.
DP:Why do you admire Duncan so much?
AB: Nobody could stop him. He had the left hand, the right hand, [he could] pass around double teams. [He] shot over 50%, which is big time. Also he had the Twin Towers effect early in his career, with David Robinson—kind of like me and Pau [Gasol]. It was fun watching him as a kid.
DP:He was a rookie in 1997. What were you doing in 1997?
AB: I have no idea. Whatever 10-year-olds do.
DP:Last time you got an autograph?
AB: I'm a big soccer fan. Pau just got me a jersey from Real Madrid with all the autographs on it.
DP:Who's your favorite soccer player?
AB: Didier Drogba is my favorite right now.
DP:Who is the LeBron James of soccer?
AB: Drogba. People can't take it away from him. And he can finish.
DP:Do you expect to be in the Finals?
AB: Yes. We definitely have a chance to get there. I'm going to do everything in my power to make it possible.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw said his favorite thing about Magic Johnson's group buying the Dodgers is how well-known his boss is: "When someone asks who our owner is, we can just say it and move on." ... NFL Network's Rich Eisen, who is hosting the draft coverage, is glad the league asked broadcasters to stop showing players in the green room answering their phone right before they're selected. "It was getting completely out of control," Eisen said. "There was no way to stop it. There was no way to tell teams they couldn't call their prospects." ... I asked Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill how he would have reacted three years ago, when he was playing wide receiver for the Aggies, if I had told him he could be a top 10 pick at quarterback. "[I would have been] really surprised," Tannehill said. "I don't know if I would have believed you." ... Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins visited the Broncos before the draft and talked to the newly arrived Peyton Manning, but only briefly. "He's kind of a rock star," Cousins told me, "so I didn't want to bother him."