PHILADELPHIA -- Andrew Bynum played seven seasons with Kobe Bryant as his teammate before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers this summer. He shared success with his fellow prep-to-pros product, making three NBA Finals, winning two championships and even both being named All-Stars last season.
But by the end of his time in L.A., Bynum felt that Bryant's ball-dominant ways hurt his development as one of the league's best centers.
"I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it's hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously," Bynum told a group of L.A. reporters before the Lakers played the Sixers on Sunday. "Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth."
Bryant, who said he met with Bynum for 3-4 minutes after he put up 34 points in the Lakers' 111-98 win over the Sixers, was not offended by his former teammate's remarks. In fact, he agreed with them.
"For sure, because when you're playing with me you obviously have to sacrifice something," Bryant said. "Same thing with me and Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal). You kind of off-set each other to a certain extent. So, I mean, that's true. When he gets back and he's healthy, he'll come out here and he'll be the focal point of their attack and he'll be getting the ball more and you'll see big games from him more consistently."
Bryant was very supportive of Bynum in his comments, calling the 7-footer "really a special player at both ends of the floor." The only pot shot Bryant took was over Bynum's combed-down afro coif, saying, "I don't know what he's doing with that perm, but I guess he's a trendsetter."
Despite the hair and the fact that he hasn't logged a minute with his new team yet because of knee problems, Bynum still has a very high opinion of where he currently ranks among the game's big men.
"Personally I think they traded No. 1 for No. 2," Bynum said, referring to the Lakers acquiring the 27-year-old Dwight Howard as the major part of the four-team exchange that landed him in Philly.
The 25-year-old Bynum warned that Howard will have to get used to the balancing act of playing alongside Bryant.
"I think Dwight is a great player, but he's going to have to get accustomed to playing with Kobe and not touching the ball every single play," Bynum said.
Of course, Howard is getting the chance to make those adjustments by being on the court. He hasn't missed a game all season after undergoing back surgery in the offseason. Bynum, meanwhile, has yet to suit up for the Sixers but sounded optimistic about his health on Sunday.
"Actually I'm feeling better and the pain is down in both knees, which is good," Bynum said. "But there could be something floating around in there."
Bynum has an MRI scheduled for Thursday in New York City to examine both of his knees. He said his right knee has improved considerably, but he is still feeling discomfort in his left one.
"The update really is I'm feeling much better, I would say, than the initial state of injury," Bynum said, detailing how he has been able to add shooting drills to his rehab process. "When I see the doctor, hopefully I will be cleared for impact."
Bynum has yet to be able to run, however.
"I'm going to have to work extremely hard to get back into form," said Bynum who also revealed that he wasn't sure if his offseason trip to Germany to receive Orthokine therapy helped him or hurt him. "Obviously I've been off for quite some time now. It's kind of ridiculous. But I'm just looking forward to getting back on the treadmill and running for the first time this entire summer."
Bynum could still not pinpoint the exact stress that caused his knees to become hurt in the offseason, noting that whatever happened came during his regular offseason training regimen.
"I don't think it was avoidable," Bynum said. "I just think it's something I have to go through."
While Bynum has been sidelined, he's paid attention to the struggles of his former team. However, the only teammate he's kept in touch with is Pau Gasol, and he also hasn't spoken to Howard since the trade.
"They're just struggling," Bynum said of the Lakers' 10-14 start to the season. "They got injuries and they're not posting the ball, so, that's tough too."
Bynum wasn't done there.
"They got to make a commitment to defense, No. 1, and No. 2, I think they're going to have to post the ball within a system that's going to do that," he said. "Obviously the talent is there to win a championship from a starter's point of view, anyway. I think they struggle a little bit off the bench, so that kind of hurts, too."
Bynum said he has "no regrets" about the path that led him out of L.A. He added "my time is done there" and that the location of where he plays isn't as important to him as him being healthy enough to allow him to play.
"It doesn't really matter to me where I play as long as I get to," Bynum said.
The Lakers play the Sixers again New Year's Day, so it is very unlikely Bynum will get the opportunity to play against the only other team he's played for in his eight-year career.
"You want to play against your old team always," Bynum said. "It's just a shame. I don't know when I'll be back. I guess I'm just excited to play any game at this point."