By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – That one day in August, at the Constitution Center here in Old City Philadelphia was a pretty high point for Sixers fans. Finally, a centerpiece. Finally, a superstar level player. Finally, owners who are willing to take a risk to try and win a championship. Sunshine was cast over a decade of mostly grey days in Sixerland. We have Andrew Bynum, and the rest is just details.
Last night, December 10th, was the moment I stopped caring about Andrew Bynum and his knees. A confusing, conflicting statement given by Bynum about when he might play this season. Andrew Bynum was no longer sunshine, but a dark cloud hanging over a season that would otherwise prove to be enjoyable. Blocking the light that should be shining on the improved play of young players like Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
Bynum says he will be able to start basketball related activities on December 20th if the doctor tells him he can. In the same press sitting, Bynum said he still has pain when walking or swimming. In previous statements, Sixers GM Tony DiLeo said that Bynum will play when he feels physically able to do so. So unless that doctor says “Andrew, you feel fine,” I’m not sure what he’s supposed to say.
So please, until the report becomes “Andrew Bynum is going to play on Thursday,” spare me the updates.
Spare me the quotes and the drama. Spare me the hairstyles, which were sort of funny until they weren’t. . Spare me the weakened cartilage states and bone bruises. Spare me the stories about bowling and Dave and Buster’s that are sort of funny but mostly depressing. Spare me the timelines and MRIs, the doctor visits and CT scans. One day Andrew Bynum could be a very good player for the Sixers, but until that point, please spare me.
Every time we mention Andrew Bynum we’re not mentioning the huge step forward Jrue Holiday has taken this year. Every time we mention Bynum it’s at the expense mentioning the step forward Thaddeus Young has taken. Every Bynum mention is one fewer for Evan Turner’s emergence out of bust-land.
There seem to be two possible likely scenarios that have kept Bynum off the court this season.
1. Andrew Bynum’s knees are so bad that arthritis is keeping him from even running, and are so weak that bowling causes bone bruises. That missing significant time in almost every season he’s played is a sign of things to come.
2. Andrew Bynum is so worried about his contract, or uninterested in contributing, that he’s decided he doesn’t want to be on the court yet.
Neither scenario looks particularly rosy to me.
I’m willing to bet that Andrew Bynum will play basketball for the Sixers this season. If for no other reason that the decision not to would be a costly one financially for him. But until that point, and the “should we re-sign him” discussion that will likely follow, let’s focus our attention on the court, not on the guy sitting in suit next to the bench.