Is Andrew Bynum Really The NBA’s New Bad Boy?
by David J. Leonard on January 3, 2012
Lakers center Andrew Bynum has become persona non grata within the Los Angeles media. Bynum has become the source of media condemn and criticism, most of which has nothing to do with basketball, minus the manufactured panic over the Lakers’ non-struggles, and hand-wringing over whether Bynum is a viable trade asset in a deal for Dwight Howard.
T.J. Simers, in “Lakers need one more big man, fewer Chicken Littles,” feeds this panic over the Lakers in typical and clichéd demonization of Andrew Bynum. Depicting him as a “big baby,” unreliable and injury-prone, Simers is skeptical about Bynum’s worth to the Lakers:
“If the Lakers are going to be successful, they need Bynum playing shoulder-to-shoulder with Gasol and Kobe, making it the Big Three. That would mean Bynum stepping forward as a professional,”
Simers piles it on further
“I have my doubts. I was in his corner before he went punk in the playoffs, the big baby walking off the court while removing his jersey.”
The infantilization of Bynum while seemingly without much basis is especially troubling given the history of representing black men as immature boys. This column, however, doesn’t limit itself to the basketball arena offering cheap shots that would make any number of NBA “enforcers” proud. He follows-up his discussion of the basketball issues with the following:
Then he became the walking embodiment of the entitled athlete, twice in a span of two months having his car photographed parked in a handicap spot. Obviously he doesn’t care about the rules, civility or what others think. How many times did he park wherever he wanted without being caught?
The criminalization of black athletes is nothing new and Simers deploys this common deployed narrative with ease. According to sociologist Jonathan Markovitz, “The bodies of African American athletes from a variety of sports have been at the center of a number of mass media spectacles in recent years, most notably involving Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson, but NBA players have been particularly likely to occupy center stage in American racial discourse.”
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