Hello World, Meet Will Bynum
With their postseason hopes on the line, things looked bleak for the Pistons heading into the final quarter against the Bobcats on Sunday night. After allowing a 17-point lead to completely evaporate, the Pistons actually finished the third quarter trailing by one. And then, as if things weren't difficult enough, Rip Hamilton was ejected after picking up his second technical of the night.
Naturally, that's when Bynum took over, etching his name in the team's record book in the process by scoring 26 points in the final quarter to put the game on ice.
Bynum did most of the damage by attacking the lane and drawing whistles -- he shot 6-6 from the field and 14-16 from the line in the final quarter, finishing the game with 32 points and seven assists. The previous team record for points in a quarter was 24, accomplished twice by Isiah Thomas in the 1980's and most recently by Jerry Stackhouse eight years ago.
The Pistons have a long and storied tradition of excellent guard play -- glance up at the Palace rafters and you'll see numbers belonging to Dave Bing, Thomas, Joe Dumars and Vinnie Johnson, and that's not even counting the new generation of Chauncey Billups and Hamilton -- but on Sunday, Bynum did something no one's ever accomplished while wearing a Pistons jersey.
Not too bad for a guy who stands six-feet-zero in shoes, bounced between two colleges, went undrafted, spent most of his first year as a pro in the D-League and then played two years in Israel before going to summer league to earn a contract with the Pistons that made him the second-lowest paid player on the team, ahead of only Walter Sharpe, a second-round pick rookie.
Of course, to suggest that Bynum's monster performance on Sunday came out of nowhere wouldn't be fair; he's been playing well for some time now, and though his minutes have been limited, he's actually the team's leader with an 18.0 PER. As Michael Curry admitted after the game, Bynum is already on the opposition's radar, if not that of the casual fan, as well. "[As] I told him, 'You're in the scouting report now, Will. They're going to try to protect the paint and stop you from getting there,' " Curry said.
Talking with reporters in front of his locker, Bynum deflected all the praise to his teammates. "I mean, it's really not me," he said. "It's my teammates and the coaching staff. I couldn't even be -- I don't deserve all the credit, it was pretty much them, those guys out there setting the screens and the coaching staff believing in me. That's who gets the [credit] for it."
Professional athletes are trained to talk like this, but coming out of Bynum's mouth, I'm inclined to actually believe him. And after hearing comments from other players that are enough to make you question being a fan, Bynum's "team first" mentality is entirely refreshing.
"I could have sat on the bench and scored two points, I still would have been up cheering trying to get this win," he added. "As long as we got the win, I'm going to be satisfied no matter what happens."