By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – August 14th, 2012, seems like so long ago, doesn’t it?
The ridiculous, but fun, press conference that the Sixers had to welcome Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia was a highlight for most fans. It may not have been good for the reporters, nor particularly humble on the part of the organization, but the signal that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel blinded most to anything that could be considered wrong with the event at the Constitution Center.
Unfortunately, that day, that first day of the Andrew Bynum era, might be as good as it gets.
Bone bruises and bowling. Cartilage and timetables. Four doctors who cleared Bynum, or six doctors who cleared Bynum, depending on whether you’re talking to Tony DiLeo or Adam Aron. Timetables and setbacks. The Andrew Bynum era has been clouded by confusion and controversy, and at least the appearance that the Sixers may have been less than honest regarding what they knew of the risks they were taking, and the health problems that Bynum has.
It isn’t the fact that they decided to take whatever risk it was really. The Sixers were in a bad spot as far as talent goes, and if they decided a 10% chance of Bynum being productive was a better risk than say, Ed Davis and Jose Calderon (a rumored Andre Iguodala trade), that’s fine.
The problem is that the risk was voiced a more quietly than the press conference, or the commercials for 10-game plans and season tickets. The hype machine was loud and boisterous, and many fans bought right into it. The chance to see a contender was the first time in years that fans gladly shelled out money for Sixers tickets. And it’s not just money that fans gave, it was their time, their hearts, their energy and their hope.
The fact is that if the organization was always aware that Bynum playing was an iffy proposition, it was irresponsible to start that hype machine. Irresponsible on the part of the team to paint the team as a contender. Irresponsible on the part of team CEO Adam Aron for fanning the flames of it all. A quiet, reserved, “wait and see” attitude and approach would have been more honest and responsible.
And now it’s a disaster, and people are angry. The few left that even care anymore.
Those fans that bought tickets, or merely bought in with their time, deserve an explanation. How many doctors cleared Andrew Bynum? Because it seems particularly unlikely to me that six doctors or four doctors or however many it was, would have given Bynum a clear bill of health. Who are the doctors, and what did they say?
How aware were the Sixers of the fact that Andrew Bynum would not play even close to a full season, if at all?
Does the organization believe that they were misled by Bynum or the Lakers, or anyone?
Who gave the go-ahead to the trade? Most figure Doug Collins has the final say on personnel, but it’s hard to believe Collins is the one making the calls to arrange the deals. Did anyone object?
The reporters are sick of asking questions, and getting conflicting answers, sometimes from Bynum himself, often times in the same press briefing. “There’s a lot of pain,” and “things are going great,” are not statements that should go together. Fans are sick of asking the reporters to ask the questions. Everyone is sick of watching them lose.
It’s not even fair to the other players on the team, who are suffering, albeit in a different way than fans and reporters.
It’s true that most of these things are not public knowledge most of the time. But most of the time there aren’t press conferences with fans invited, and season tickets for sale right outside the velvet rope. Most times when you trade for a franchise player, he’ll practice once or twice with the team. This is a different situation that calls for different handling.
The new Sixers ownership, and Collins, gained a lot of goodwill last season. They’re a couple of bad knees away from being back where they started.
It’s all pretty sad. And people deserve some answers.