Bynum changes what he takes in, but he’s still putting out 100 percent
David Sherman (NBAE/Getty)
Three months ago, Will Bynum made “a complete lifestyle change.” Six weeks ago, it kicked in. And if you thought Bynum was a workout warrior before, well …
“Now I’m completely wired all day,” he said after he was the last player off the court to end a pre-training camp group workout this week at the Pistons practice facility. “I was already like that, but now it’s kind of scary.”
He eats baked chicken, tilapia and salmon, fresh fruits and vegetables. He’s abandoned sugar and flour, milk and other dairy products, artificial colorings and flavorings. Not even Gatorade passes muster. Those things, he says, dull your concentration and sap your energy.
He worked out like crazy over the summer in Chicago, and when he drove back to his Oakland County home a few weeks ago, he did so after a late-night workout, got in at 5 a.m., went shopping to stock the cupboards for his family’s arrival and went straight to The Palace for a 9 a.m. workout. Left the building at 3 and went to run a few errands, got home and did another aerobic workout.
“I’m locked in. I’m constantly working out, then spending time with my family. I’m doing something, whether it’s at home or whether it’s coming back out to the gym at nighttime.”
With nearly all of the team in town and taking part in daily workouts, Bynum has noticed he’s gasping for air less than his teammates.
“I was working out three or four times a day in Chicago, so this is like nothing to me,” he said. “I’ve been breezing through this stuff.”
He’s thrilled with the hiring of Stan Van Gundy, delighted by the fact he’ll be playing for a coach who doubles as the president of basketball operations. He knows the business side of the NBA – players brought in by the front office on big contracts are going to play, sometimes against the wishes of the coach who sees players busting their backsides every day in practice. Give Bynum – suddenly the longest-tenured Piston, entering his seventh season under his sixth coach – a fair chance to win a role and that’s all he asks.
“Stan is straightforward with me and in return I’m the same way,” he said. “I’m all business, all work when we’re here. I’m trying to be the first one in everything that we do, every single day, I’m the one challenging, talking, keeping the guys motivated and I’m trying to take on the leadership role. I’ve been here the longest. My character fits a leader because I’m always going to be the one that works the hardest. That’s what Stan is. Stan’s a worker. He’s a basketball guy, he’s on the court, and I’ve learned a lot just in the short amount of time being here.”
The Pistons return incumbent starter Brandon Jennings and Van Gundy added D.J. Augustin as a free agent and drafted Spencer Dinwiddie. If you expected Bynum to take that news hard, try again.
“C’mon, man. I’ve been here with Allen Iverson, Ben Gordon, Chauncey Billups, (Rodney) Stuckey, (Arron) Afflalo,” he said. “I’ve been here on and on with players. I’m still here. That should let you know something about me.”
He knows Van Gundy gets creative with lineups and says he wouldn’t be surprised if he winds up playing alongside Jennings or Augustin at times, but he isn’t losing any of the little sleep he now requires sweating it.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I’m just worried about us making the playoffs and getting the best out of each other every single day and getting better every day.”
Given his chemistry in running pick-and-roll sets with Andre Drummond, Bynum beams at the prospect of turning the corner to see how defenses react and present him with options: drive and penetrate, throw the high lob to Drummond or find one of the skilled shooters Van Gundy added in free agency.
“Oh, man. Whew!” he said. “They’re going to have to be honest. We were like third in the league in alley oops (last season) with no shooters. So imagine with some shooters, where they have to step out there or those guys are knocking down shots. It’s going to be easy. The game is easy anyway, but when you put the personnel around it with weapons, it’s easier to read, especially from my end.”
Of those many coaches Bynum has played under with the Pistons, none come with the resume of Van Gundy.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” he said. “Stan is the guy and the priority is winning and he’s the guy out here on the court making all the decisions, so it sets the tone for what is expected from everybody. This is the type of situation that I thrive in. I’ve worked my way through every situation and now to have it to where you have a guy who values that is definitely rewarding for me because I know what I can do. There’s not a whole lot we need to talk about. I’m more into showing him on a daily basis who I am and what I’m about.”