Big day for Lakers: Meeting Obama, and greeting Bynum
WASHINGTON – Not much can upstage a visit with President Barack Obama, but in the Los Angeles Lakers’ world, the announcement of Andrew Bynum’s return comes close.
The Lakers were busy Monday in the nation’s capital, celebrating their second consecutive NBA championship one last time and also saving room for the words of a 23-year-old center.
“I’m definitely playing (today),” said Bynum, out since undergoing surgery in July to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.
The Lakers, 9-7 after winning their first eight games, have been waiting for him, though there is no timetable for how many minutes he’ll play against the Washington Wizards.
“I don’t know how long,” he said. “(Monday’s) practice felt very good. Obviously, I’m not myself yet, but I can definitely go out there and help the team, and I’m going to go do that.”
Even coach Phil Jackson isn’t sure of what Bynum could offer.
“We’ll just live with what happens,” Jackson said. “It may hurt the team but we’re willing to do that at this point. It’s a big effect for us, hopefully.”
Obama met the team in what has become an annual ritual.
The Lakers were recognized during a five-minute speech at a Boys & Girls Club in south Washington. It was a different setting from last season’s trip to the White House.
“Kobe (Bryant) and Derek (Fisher) have been there so many times now they could lead tours themselves,” Obama said addressing the site change.
Obama congratulated Bryant for being the Finals MVP and called the Lakers “one of the outstanding sports franchises in our country and our history.”