"To be honest, my first experience here has been so great, I'm really leaning toward making this my home," he said, referring to the possibility of re-signing with the Sixers before hitting unrestricted free agency next summer.
With that comment, Bynum sent the press conference crowd into the type of unadulterated frenzy that this team hasn't evoked from its fans for the better part of a decade. It was the loudest roar in an afternoon full of them, and Bynum, Richardson and even some of the 76ers' brass seemed astonished at the mob's level of sheer exuberance.
For Bynum, who grew up in Plainsboro, which is just outside of Princeton, Wednesday's events were the commencement of something he has long desired. After playing third fiddle to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol during two title runs in Los Angeles, the 24-year-old wanted to be the lead dog on a championship contender. This is his chance.
"I am looking forward to it," Bynum said. "It is the next step in my career and my progression as a basketball player. It's going to be a lot more exciting and fun to know that everything is going to be run through you."
Few doubt that Bynum has the talent to be a superstar. Conservatively listed at 7-foot and 285 pounds, he possesses the size, skill and coordination to be the type of force on the block that is rare in today's NBA.
"I really haven't, anywhere I've been, had that guy that you can throw that ball down into the post and play through him and will get you 20 and 10 every night," said Sixers coach Doug Collins, in an effort to put Bynum's abilities in perspective. Collins, now on his fourth coaching stop, has been in the league nearly 40 years.
Bynum has his warts - a history of knee problems and random bouts of immaturity - but he is only 24. On Wednesday, Bynum insisted that his knees are healthy. He will head to Germany in September to undergo an injection-based procedure designed to strengthen his knees. Bryant, Bynum's former teammate in Los Angeles, publicly raved about the procedure a year ago.
Last April, the Lakers played a 2-week stretch without Bryant, who was nursing a shin injury. Bynum acclimated to an expanded offensive role in dominant fashion, averaging over 23 points and 14 rebounds in seven games, including a Herculean 30-rebound effort in San Antonio. The question is, can he do it over the course of a full season?
"I am confident and I am ready to do it," Bynum said. "I've always been compared to past great centers - Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal] - coming from Laker-land. But I am my own player, and I am going to work as hard as I can to exceed everyone's expectations. There is a pressure [here], but you know, pressure makes diamonds."
In Philadelphia, the pressure is usually plentiful, and this situation is no different. Bynum is joining a very young core, and with the additions of veterans Richardson, Dorell Wright, Nick Young and Kwame Brown, this team will be expected to win, now and going forward.
"With Andrew and Jason, we think we're ready to step up and play with anybody," said team president Rod Thorn.
Thorn expressed confidence that the team could re-sign its newest addition, saying that Bynum is an "East Coast type of guy." If the Sixers wait until after the season, they can offer Bynum a deal - up to 5 years and $102 million - that no team can match in years or dollar amount.
This move is the most recent evidence that the front office was not fooled by last year's playoff run. That team lacked size and shooting, and according to Thorn, they knew it.
"At the end of the year, when we looked at our team, and even if we were going to stay how we were, we had to add shooting," Thorn said. "We were a poor shooting team. We were not a physical team, not a particularly big team. At the end of the day, that is what killed us in our series with the Celtics. We couldn't make shots."
It is a whole new world now with Bynum in the middle and capable shooters like Wright, Richardson and Young on the outside. In fact, it appears to be a whole new world with a Sixers ownership group determined to make this team a contender.
From the start, they have expressed a desire to build something here in Philadelphia. CEO Adam Aron and owner Josh Harris restated that desire on Wednesday afternoon in front of hundreds, and starting with Bynum, they have gone a long way toward showing it.
Contact Alex Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org