COMMENTARY | Acquired in the Dwight Howard mega-deal this summer, Andrew Bynum has yet to even practice with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ever since his introductory press conference, Bynum's return to the court has continuously been pushed back.
An ESPN article by Brian Windhorst has now quoted Sixers general manager Nick DiLeo saying, "Bottom line is Andrew is out indefinitely."
The latest setback comes after Bynum injured his left knee -- the opposite one which he has been rehabbing -- telling the philly.com blog Deep Sixer, "I think it happened bowling, to be honest."
A setback this large due to such a minor incident makes Bynum look even more brittle than before, if that is at all possible.
With this latest injury, is Bynum the new Greg Oden?
Generally speaking, centers in the NBA have a history of having their bodies break down on them. Think of the careers of Bill Walton, Ralph Sampson, Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal. All battled various back, knee and foot injuries that would abruptly end their careers.
Bynum and Oden are the two most recent players to fit that mold. They have a few similarities.
Both players were first-round draft picks. Oden was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Portland Trailblazers franchise when he the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Bynum was the 10th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. He was never going to be the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, but that is one of the big reasons the Philadelphia 76ers traded for him for.
Oden could not stay healthy in the NBA.
He missed his entire first season due to a right knee injury. He missed a total of five weeks in the 2008-2009 season because of a foot and left knee injury. He played 21 games the next season before injuring his left knee once again and missing the remainder of the season. Several surgical procedures on both his left and right knees have kept Oden from the hardwood since 2009.
The 24-year-old just cannot get his knees in playable shape.
Bynum's NBA career has taken a similar course. He's only played an every game of the regular season once in his now eight-year career. He dislocated his left knee in a game in 2007 and would miss the end of the season. The following year he missed significant time with a torn MCL in his right knee.
In the 2009-2010 season Bynum injured his right knee in a playoff game against the Thunder. He finished the game and elected not to get surgery until after the season. He missed the beginning of the 2010-2011 season because the knee took longer than expected to heal and then he missed the last game of the regular season after hyper-extending his right knee.
Now both knees are injured again. No matter what he does, Bynum, much like Oden, cannot get his knees to cooperate with a budding NBA career.
Like Oden, Bynum is young and if he could stay healthy would be a very productive player in the NBA. Like Oden, Bynum tends to be the butt-end of jokes from the media because of his balky knees, especially because of the latest bowling incident.
No one is sure when we will ever see either on the basketball court in the NBA again.
If either returns (although many are more optimistic about a Bynum comeback eventually than one from Oden) no one knows how strong their knees will be and how long they will last. As Bynum told philly.com, "I'm kind of taking the position that if that happens bowling, what happens while dunking?"
With Oden not on a team right now and most likely sitting this season out, Bynum is the fragile seven-footer getting all the wrong attention because of his injuries (and his new afro).
In a contract year, Bynum has bigger worries now than if he will get a max-deal from the Sixers.
He needs to get back on the court first.
Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe, Philly.com, FoxSoccer.com, LaxMagazine.com and New England Lacrosse Journal.
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- Andrew Bynum
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