By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Andrew Bynum era in Philadelphia is over. 11 months of torture, for both him and us, began with a bang at the constitution center, and then was filled with awkward press conferences, bowling, funny hair and frustration. I couldn’t be happier that it’s over.
But I cannot be angry at Bynum, as many seem to be. Hard as a try, I can’t muster up the vitriol to wish him bad luck in Cleveland. If I feel anything for Andrew Bynum, it’s a little bit of pity.
Andrew Bynum is a knucklehead and a goofball. That much is for sure. Basketball might not be his favorite thing in the world, and he probably doesn’t work as hard as he should. He’s patently unaware, or just doesn’t care, about how he comes off publicly. The thing is, none of the these things caused Andrew Bynum not to play for the Sixers, his knees did. Bone bruises and degenerative arthritis did, and he didn’t ask for either.
Chase Utley, like Bynum, missed about 80 games last year due to a degenerative condition in his knees. He may have not been completely forthright about his injury with the team, but it was the injury that stopped him from playing, it wasn’t his dishonesty.
Bynum didn’t decide not to play because he’s soft, or a rip off artist, or because he was too busy doing whatever he was doing while not playing basketball.
Not playing cost Andrew Bynum nearly $100 million dollars. Think about that. His deal is being reported as two years and $24 million with the Cavs, but that’s a bit of agent-magic. The deal is guaranteed for one year and $6 million.
He didn’t decide not to play because he didn’t want to play in Philadelphia, or at least I don’t think so. No offense to Cleveland, but I can’t imagine he wants to be there either.
Not playing cost Andrew Bynum the ability to choose where he’d like to play.
All told, not playing cost Andrew Bynum a lot more than it cost the Sixers. I actually believe the team is in a better place considering the circumstances. A better general manager, a (probably) less crazy coach (I guess), and a five-year plan. Bynum’s plan is now just getting through the year.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in everything that came along in the seven-foot package the Sixers got from the Lakers aside from how he played basketball, because he never played basketball, and I get that. But he didn’t trade himself here. He didn’t give up Harkless, Vucevic, Iguodala and a first round pick for himself. His knees are his knees, the Sixers are the ones who decided they wanted them. They looked at his MRIs and decided to go for it.
Here is a 25 year-old man, whose body is failing him, and preventing him from doing the thing he does best to continue to make a living. I’m not crying for him and his $6 million contract, but I think any of us can imagine what it’s like to want to do something, and have your body tell you it’s no longer possible.
I’m not sure I wish Andrew Bynum success in Cleveland, as I’m not sure my heart could take it. But I certainly don’t wish him the worst.
So long Andrew Bynum, and thanks for all the hair.