If there's one thing that I think we can all agree on, it's that life has been a little too smooth for Andrew Bynum lately.
From the totally uneventful start to his first training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers and news that he definitely wouldn't need another preseason injection in his right knee to his on-time return for the start of the regular season, ability to do more than low-impact work on an anti-gravity treadmill, avoidance of any insane bowling-alley injuries and steering clear of totally open-ended indefinite shelvings, it's been smooth sailing for the 7-footer ever since he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the 76ers as part of the four-team blockbuster that sent Dwight Howard to Hollywood and Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. Just one look at the 25-year-old big man makes it clear that everything is going great, thank you very much.
Given how copacetic everything's been for Bynum these past few months, then, maybe it's a good thing that he now finds himself embroiled in a testy legal row with his former next-door neighbors that's appears best described by Janine White of the Philly Post as "a battle of 'he said "you threw pennies at my Ferrari and chipped the paint,"/they said "we don't like your weed smoke drifting from next door."'" A little adversity, at long last, might be just the ticket for good ol' Andrew. Keep him from getting complacent, you know?
News of the courtroom drama came to us first, as all good things do, from TMZ:
Bynum [...] claims that ever since he moved into his fancy home in Westchester, Calif., more than seven years ago, he's been constantly harassed by his neighbors, Ramond and Cindy Beckett.
According to his lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bynum says ... the Becketts have objected to his "profession, his race, his friends, his cars and his taste in music."
Bynum filed his suit against the Becketts on June 1, according to USA TODAY Sports' Rachel Shuster. The couple countersued about six weeks later, on July 11, calling Bynum "a great basketball player and a terrible neighbor" who, during the course of their time living next to one another, acted more like a rock star perpetually trashing his hotel room than a homeowner interested in being part of his community.
The list of Bynum's alleged offenses, according to the Becketts' filing:
• "Blasting loud, profane, and disrespectful music and video games at window-shaking volumes"
• "Letting his dogs run loose through the neighborhood"
• "Apparently engaging in illegal drug use and permitting marijuana smoke to drift into the Becketts' backyard"
• "Constructing a fence on his property which is not in compliance with the community codes and regulations" (NOTE: truly the most evil and insidious of suburban crimes)
• "Conspicuously brandishing firearms in an attempt to threaten and intimidate the Becketts in retaliation for their legitimate complaints"
• "And, perhaps most seriously, by recklessly racing his luxury cars through the neighborhood at dangerous speeds where children or others could be injured or killed."
Bynum, for his part, has flatly denied the Becketts' charges, and claimed in his court filing that the couple had a penchant for "throwing coins at his Ferrari (which chipped the paint), screaming at him about his music, and even banging the side of his house with 'a long stick.'" Not quite as serious as allegedly flashing weapons and street racing, but still less than ideal behavior. (Especially if the stick was sharpened.)
While the legal-filing back-and-forth seems uniquely suited to someone whose present status seems as chaotic as Bynum's does, and these are serious allegations, they are, of course, merely allegations. The "playing my stereo really loud" would seem to track with some of the bratty/petulant behavior Bynum displayed during his years as a Laker, and the speeding/street-racing charges don't seem especially outlandish given Bynum's past vehicular transgressions. The big-font headline stuff — the guns, the drugs — we'll hold off on lending too much credence in the absence of more information; tales have a tendency to grow taller in the telling, after all.
If there turns out to be some legitimate backing to the claims, though, their revelation would seem to be the absolute last thing that Bynum would need as he works to rehabilitate both his knees and his image in the interest of trying to procure a max-level contract when he hits free agency this summer. "Oh, your body can't handle anything beyond a special treadmill AND you flash guns at neighbors? Here's as much money as we can possibly give you, for as long as we can do so. Please accept it with our compliments."
(Who am I kidding? These are NBA owners we're talking about. Of course that would happen.)
All we really know right now is that Bynum can't practice, he can't play and these days he can't seem to keep any and all public discussion of his behavior and attitude from skewing negative. This certainly won't help matters much there, irrespective of how the Bynum/Becketts court case is eventually resolved. In the meantime, the 76ers continue to live life without their expected centerpiece, plugging to a 9-6 record (just 1 1/2 games behind the Atlantic Division-leading Brooklyn Nets and second-place New York Knicks) behind the sterling play of point guard Jrue Holiday (18.5 points on 46/40/80 shooting splits and 9.1 assists per game) and a defense that allows the league's eighth-fewest points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com's stat tool. Without Bynum, their 23rd-ranked offense seems unlikely to improve significantly and they seem ill-equipped to score enough to rise beyond the lower tier of the Eastern Conference playoff picture; then again, with Bynum seeming for all the world like the NBA's poster child for bad-karma magnetics, maybe Philly would be better served just letting him take the next few plays off.
One positive element to this story: The Becketts recently sold their Westchester home, according to TMZ's report, so their time as Bynum's neighbors has come to an end. This is probably for the best; regardless of which side's allegations are true (or if any of it is at all), this seems like a relationship that had gone past the point of reconciliation. It's like the old saying goes: Not even good fences can make good neighbors if the fences are not in compliance with community codes and regulations.
Hat-tip to Sportando.net.