I was no fan of Andrew Bynum's trade to Philly.
Philadelphia folk remember the names Jeff Ruland, Roy Hinson and Matt Geiger. Each player set the franchise back for years because they couldn't stay on the floor. Ruland knows what the young fella is going through , but I don't know if the snake bitten Bynum is ready for Philly, healthy knees or not.
One of the first times I interacted with Bynum was during the 2008 Finals. Interviewing Julius Erving after Dr. J and Kobe talked briefly on the floor during warm-ups, I spotted a visibly upset Andrew Bynum sitting under the basket. He was out with a knee injury, missed the Finals and didn't want to speak on it. I left him alone that “Paul Pierce wheelchair” day, but caught up with him the next season covering a game for SLAM:
SLAM: I remember vividly seeing you sit next to the court at the Finals and you looked like you were straight pissed off. Help us out here. Did it inspire you? Was it a good thing?
AB: It definitely wasn’t a good thing to be in that position of being hurt. Only thing it made me understand is how quickly it all can be taken away. How you can be on top of the world one minute and below it the next?
Do you notice that question mark? He seemed very uncertain. Andrew Bynum was young then and is still relatively young now. Did he enter the league too soon? Was he ready physically? Some players are still growing and playing a full NBA schedule. I'm not a doctor, but could this be the reason why Andrew Bynum's knees continue to deter any influence he should have on the league?
Philly fans were very excited when the Bynum trade was announced. They grew tired of Andre Iguodala and wanted him and his big contract out of town. Generally, they assumed Bynum would come in, get his 20/10/2, and push the Sixers back to the NBA elite for the next decade. Again, be careful what you wish for.
Philadelphia's prized acquisition is currently reduced to internet memes and answering questions about why in the hell was he bowling when he hasn't practiced or played once for the team that gave up a gold medal winning all star for his services? The hair is straight crazy. Could he be emulating the great Julius Erving? Possibly. I honestly think it's more about deflecting attention away from his injuries than making some kind of fashion statement. If you were 25 and one of the few true centers left in the NBA, how would you feel if consistently unable to show the world what you have?
Leaving LA and Kobe's shadow, Bynum had to be excited about his future. Now he's a .gif of the wrong kind . Philadelphia is the wrong town to be going through something like this.
Philadelphia will turn on him quickly and the entire narrative will question his maturity a season after the Sixers finally returned to the second round of the playoffs – pushing archrival Boston to a Game 7 with one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Bynum is in a contract year and surely expects whoever signs him to offer a max deal. If he cannot get on the floor – and some feel that might not be until March or even April – who would be stupid enough to pay that type of money for damaged goods?
It's speculated Bynum has the joint disorder osteochondritis dessicans lesions. If this is the case, and Bynum returns too soon, his career could be in jeopardy. Philadelphia is a city rocked by the current and unrelenting ineptitude of its sports teams, and the last thing Andrew Bynum needs is speculative diagnosis entering a discussion he does not want to have with the press.
The smiles and, most likely, laughter you see and hear are coming from Los Angeles. Picture Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak hypothetically rolling dice at the same time on separate Vegas craps tables and both yelling…simultaneously… "Got 'em!"