Phil Jackson On Andrew Bynum’s Critics: ‘everyone Should Relax And Watch Him Grow Up’



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Manning adds 3 with Kansas ties to Tulsa staff
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TULSA, Okla. (AP) New Tulsa head coach Danny Manning’s staff will have a distinct Kansas flavor.

Manning announced Thursday that he has hired Brett Ballard and Steve Woodberry to be assistants on his coaching staff.

Ballard spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Baker University and was previously on the Kansas staff with Manning. Woodberry was an assistant at Missouri State for the past six seasons.

Both previously played at Kansas, Manning’s alma mater.

Manning also announced that San Francisco assistant coach Justin Bauman will be Tulsa’s new director of basketball operations. He, too, has ties to Kansas as a former student manager and student assistant for the Jayhawks.

Free-agent quarterback Vince Young has yet to sign with a new team for the 2012 season. Jason Campbell, David Garrard, Caleb Hanie, Chad Henne, Dan Orlovsky, Brady Quinn, Drew Stanton and Charlie Whitehurst have, but Vince Young hasn’t.

Maybe by the time the season starts, someone will have given VY a contract. Maybe not, though, and if it doesn’t, I don’t think anyone will be completely shocked but Vince Young. He still sees himself as a starter.

Young talked on Wednesday with Mike Meltser and Brad Davies of KILT in Houston about his current situation. Here’s a snippet, via Sports Radio Interviews. Vince, do you still see yourself as a starting quarterback?

“Yeah definitely. Always want to go in and compete for the starting job and the things that I put myself through to get better and better and to better myself as a quarterback, just waiting on that opportunity to get the chance to do that.”

Here’s the problem for Vince Young. He’s perceived — right or wrong — as a guy with mental/emotional issues, and as long as a team feels like they can get similar performance from a player who will make no waves, no one’s going to touch Vince Young.

[Vince Young on YSR: Eagles coach Andy Reid thinks I can be a starter]

And since he didn’t exactly shine in his limited time with the Eagles last season (57.9 completion percentage, four TDs, nine INTs) finding similar production isn’t going to be all that difficult. You can get that in the draft. You can get that in Dan Orlovsky. You can almost get that from the guy who handed you your venti decaf Americano this morning.

Vince says he and his agent have talked to a couple of teams, and I’m sure that’s true. But if anyone truly wanted him that badly, he’d have a contract.

Not that I necessarily agree with any of this. I’d take Vince Young over at least half the guys listed above, and I feel like a lot of NFL teams will head into the 2012 season with a backup worse than Vince Young. He took a lot of heat for his “Dream Team” comments last year, which is the most ridiculous thing for which anyone’s ever taken heat. Like the Eagles failed because their backup quarterback overestimated the ability of a few free agents.

Vince seems resigned to waiting until after the draft to learn his fate. I have a feeling he’ll be waiting even longer than he’d like.

Phil Jackson on Andrew Bynum’s critics: ‘everyone should relax and watch him grow up’

Phil Jackson consults Andrew Bynum in 2011 (Getty Images)

In his seventh NBA season, Andrew Bynum has played in 53 of his team’s 58 games, quite the achievement for someone that has missed 160 of his team’s 492 total games entering this year. He’s also playing over 35 minutes a contest, after averaging 10 fewer minutes a game for the first six years. Bynum is dropping about 18 points and 12 rebounds per game, and he was voted to the Western Conference All-Star team as a deserved starter.

He’s also been benched, just as deservedly, by coach Mike Brown for taking a ridiculous 3-point shot in a game against the Warriors. He’s made some smirking references to Brown’s coaching style, while sitting out some huddles, and more haughty types like yours truly have taken him to task for his immaturity. The only pro coach that Bynum has had the pleasure to have known before Brown, the recently retired Phil Jackson, went the exact opposite direction recently, taking us to task for asking Bynum to do too much, too soon. In Jackson’s own inimitable style, as emailed to the Los Angeles Times:

“Bynum is not quite mature, but everyone should relax and watch him grow up,” Jackson said via email. “This year has been a big step for him offensively…nice to see…and when he takes up the mantle as defensive captain the Lakers can get back in the hunt.”

With all due respect, two-time champion as a player and 11-time champion as a coach, I’m not going to relax with Bynum. We’ve been watching him grow up for seven seasons, and though even you were having growing pains with the similarly aged Kobe Bryant in his seventh and especially eighth season, we’re just fine for taking Bynum to task.

Because this is his seventh season. He may have been the youngest player to play an NBA game, and he might only be 24 years of age, but this is his seventh season. At some point, you have to stop looking at his age and start expecting something out of all that experience. All that time spent with Jackson and Kobe Bryant, and their 18 total NBA championship rings.

Bynum, unlike Kobe (who had to wait until his fourth season to be coached by Jackson), had the luxury of working with Phil since Day 1. And the apparent line between a seventh and eighth season out of high school and into the NBA is an odd one, since Jackson wrote a book seemingly centering around Bryant’s brand of eighth-year churlishness in 2003-04. That book was highly critical of Bryant, and it seemed to do quite well for Jackson. Is year eight the cutoff point, where all kid gloves are off, and we can take a player to task?

As a fan of low-post play, Bynum’s ability to stay healthy and on the court has been fantastic to see. He’s always been this great, per-minute, and now he’s giving his team the sort of healthy wheels and court presence needed to put up All-Star stats. And though Jackson got in a little dig on Bynum’s defense, even when Bynum isn’t responding and reacting as he should on that end, his long arms and 7-1 frame are factors in Los Angeles’ 13th-ranked defense.

That defense is down from sixth, a year ago, when it was helmed by Jackson. And even though Bynum is playing more and Bryant is putting up great per-game numbers, the offense is down to 11th from sixth last year. As it always is with Jackson, even though he’s probably right, there’s a lot of smirking “I told you so” to be found. Even in a short email to a newspaper scribe.

We’re right to criticize Bynum. It has been nice to see him grow up in public, and we’re looking forward to a few more years of it until he hits his prime. Even 24-year-olds, though, know not to take that shot. They know not to blast music in locker rooms that don’t want to hear it, and they know not to act the part of a brat in public. Whether they’re a formerly redshirted 24-year-old NBA rookie, or a seven-year vet, 24-year-olds should know better.

For Bynum to attempt to come of age under Phil Jackson, and with Kobe Bryant’s withering glare just one blown assignment or bumbled catch away? There’s no excuses. Bynum’s come through with so much “right,” this season. And we’re OK to pounce when he goes about things all wrong.

Shoot me an email if you disagree, Phil. I’d love to learn more.

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