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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With Andrew Bynum’s return potentially delayed by an injury he sustained while bowling, the Sixers will likely suffer more losses on the court, and off it. Can they do anything about it, or was Bynum within his rights to go bowling?
Darren Heitner of Forbes magazine thinks that the Sixers might have a case if they decide they’d like to dock Bynum’s pay.
Bowling is not per se a violation of Bynum’s player contract. Paragraph 12 of the NBA uniform player contract specifies the off-court prohibited activities that players must avoid.
Noticeably absent from the list of prohibited activities is participating in a game of bowling. However, Paragraph 12 clearly states that the prohibited activities are not limited to those listed within that section of the player’s agreement. Thus, the 76ers could make a claim that a reasonable person who has suffered the injuries that Bynum has endured, and was rehabbing same, would not engage in bowling. The hard part would be to prove that bowling exposes a person to a substantial risk of bodily injury.
In the future, teams may choose to expand the definition of prohibited activities based on Bynum’s situation. Bynum’s contract with the 76ers has him getting paid $16,100,000 this season. It is speculative at this point to assess how many games Bynum will miss due to the bowling injury, but assume Bynum’s injury sets him back an extra 10 games out of the 82 game season. If the 76ers were to penalize Bynum those 10 games without pay, then the 76ers would be able to withhold $1,963,414.63 from Bynum’s $16,100,000 salary.
If the Sixers want to extend their relationship with Andrew Bynum beyond this season, fining him $2 million is probably not a great idea, even if they’re within their rights to do so.