The Philadelphia 76ers are putting a lot of trust and faith in Andrew Bynum for the upcoming year. Sixers fans like myself are also counting on him to do nothing less than make the team relevant again. But Bynum can't take the Sixers that high up if he isn't healthy enough to play - which we were reminded of on Oct. 1.
Bynum's knees have been a problem for him in the last few years, and they caused a problem again after he got them drained in Germany. Now he has to sit out for the next three weeks, which won't cost him any regular season time, but will eat up most of his preseason.
While missing three weeks of training camp doesn't seem like a big deal - at least compared to missing regular season time - it is still an early setback. It would have been nice for Bynum to start blending in with his new Sixers teammates and with Doug Collins' system, instead of spending that time healing. And any reminder of his shaky knees has to make Philadelphia a bit shaky as well.
Years ago, Elton Brand also arrived as a mega hyped All-Star from the West with pre-existing medical conditions. When they only got worse, Brand didn't take long to become a bust, and one that the Sixers desperately had to get rid of to make room for Bynum. This problem doesn't prove that Bynum will be the next Brand, but it does keep the possibility afloat.
If their new center struggles or gets hurt again, the Sixers have to face the harsh reality that most of last year's team is gone. The presumption is that finally having a real No. 1 star will make up for it, while buying this new group of Sixers some time to blend together. But if Bynum isn't healthy enough to blend with them, then Philadelphia has a real problem.
The Sixers may have needed to make this big move to become real players in the East. But it was a calculated gamble from the start, and not just because of Bynum's injury history. This is a high risk, high reward scenario, and so far the risks look more evident than the rewards.
Yet once the season actually tips off in a few weeks, we will get to see the potential rewards soon enough - assuming Bynum can take the court. The Sixers not only put a lot into his playing abilities, they risked that he would stay upright long enough to show them off. Hopefully this procedure, and all the warm up time he will miss because of it, will get him closer to delivering those goods in the long run.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and 76ers fan.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Andrew Bynum