With 8:21 left in Game 4 of the ’11 Western Conference Semifinals, the Lakers were trailing the Mavericks by 32 points and were facing elimination, down 3-0 in the series. That’s when Andrew Bynum decided to go out with a bang. And I mean literally.
Bynum decked the Mavs backup point guard J.J. Barea after he drove the lane and soared to the basket for what looked like an uncontested layup. A 7-footer closed in and threw a right elbow into the Puerto Rican’s ribs, leaving him on the floor writhing in pain.
The Lakers’ center received a flagrant foul 2 – an automatic ejection – and was suspended for the first five games of the 11/12 regular season. The NBA also fined Bynum $25,000 for “removing his jersey and the manner in which he left the court,” adding up the infraction costs to $702,272, according to ESPN. But Andrew himself didn’t care about the money. All he cared about was making amends.
My actions don’t represent me, my upbringing, this franchise, or any of the Laker fans out there that want to watch us and want us to succeed. Furthermore, and more importantly, I want to actually apologize to J.J. Barea for doing that. I’m just glad that he wasn’t seriously injured in the event, and all I can say is, I’ve looked at the replay, it’s terrible, and it definitely won’t be happening again.Andrew Bynum, ESPN
Today, 9 years later, a 36-year-old Barea discovered Andrew reached out to him the day after the game, trying to apologize for taking it out on him. Because that’s exactly what Bynum did; he felt embarrassed with how their season was about to end, so he directed his wrath at “the smallest guy on the court running down the lane and making shots.”
Bynum called me the day after. I didn’t pick up because I didn’t know whose number it was, but he left like a 1:30 message. He apologized, he was like, ‘JJ, I hope you’re doing good, I took out my frustrations on you, nothing against you I’m sorry, I hope you’re not hurt and good luck the rest of the season.’ That was pretty cool.J.J. Barea, The Old Man and The Three
Good on Bynum for making things right. Also, kudos to the “smallest guy on the court” for accepting his apology. They left their little feud on the basketball floor. And you know what — that may be the best way to do it.