September 23, 2010
For an NBA player, the summer is a time to get better in every sense of the word. Whether that means improving their game through countless hours in the gym or getting healthier by working out and having the little dings accumulated throughout the previous season taken care of, the offseason is a chance for players throughout the league to end up in a better position than they were in heading in to their time off.
Or, if you're Andrew Bynum(notes), it's a time to chill out and take it easy. Basketball can wait. No need to stress out during the time off, that's what the season is for, duh. Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register breaks down the Laker big man's strenuous offeason.
Bynum put off having offseason surgery on his right knee so he could play -- and we're not talking about playing basketball. He could've repaired the knee immediately after last season, but he postponed it to travel -- to see the soccer World Cup in South Africa and then vacation in Europe, as he had the previous summer.
Bynum didn't want to be on crutches, which would've diminished all that fun stuff or required rescheduling. He even had the knee drained, just as he did repeatedly with much ado in the playoffs to keep playing, so he could keep pivoting around reasonably well as a sightseer.
Yes, Bynum's doctor did push back the surgery date also -- from July 18 to July 28 -- because of scheduling issues, but Bynum's doctor was indeed available to perform the procedure before Bynum went globetrotting. It was Bynum's choice to enjoy himself, assuming he'd be fine by the time the 2010-11 season came -- even though his complications with knees are well known and his past healings have been measured by sundial.
Oh, nice. He's just like Shaquille O'Neal(notes) in that they've both played center for the Lakers and have chosen to miss out on important training camps because they didn't want to ruin their summers. Yeah, maybe it'll come back to bite him in the bum-bum when the season starts, but the World Cup only comes around every four years. No need to let a pesky surgery get in the way of some international soccer.
Word to Andrew Bynum for playing through pain during last year's playoffs, but as Ding notes, "But just because you do something ... doesn't mean you then don't do something more." People have called Bynum lazy since he entered the league, and choosing to party all summer instead of getting his knee fixed certainly won't change that perception. However, I have to admit that going to the doctor and having his knee drained in order to make his vacation more enjoyable is a genius move. Dude is serious about his down time.
It's also important to note that photos from this summer of Bynum carrying Playmates around on his shoulders while he has an injured knee have yet to surface, so that's a definite sign that he's getting more and more serious about basketball. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.