Insurance will pick up the $16.9 million tab if Andrew Bynum sits out the season

It’s not exactly the most warming of stories in this economy – one millionaire will still be paid even after a season-long sick day, while another group of millionaires will be able to save money – but it is interesting to note that the Philadelphia 76ers will not be on the hook for Andrew Bynum’s salary should he sit out the entire season. Bynum, who was dealt to the Sixers last August and has missed the entire season with a right knee injury, will still get every penny of his $16.9 million salary even if he doesn’t play a minute this year, and the Sixers are off the hook for that compensation due to the insurance they have on their investment.

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That’s right. Andrew Bynum, the guy that has missed 166 games over seven years due to a variety of knee ailments heading into 2012-13, wasn’t considered to have a pre-existing condition. It’s a wonderful world, sickies. From the Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Mitchell:

"There is a leaguewide insurance that he's under," Sixers president Rod Thorn said Wednesday before the team hosted the Miami Heat. "There is some relief along those lines."

Thorn did not say how much of Bynum's salary would be covered by the insurance. However, he said that the Sixers would get full relief because there are no preexisting conditions that would prevent Bynum's coverage.

"No, he's under the full protection," Thorn said.

There is some schadenfreude to be enjoyed here. For years insurance companies have either denied claims, refused service, or trumped up bills in order to deny affordable health care to those suffering from even the most minimal of pre-existing conditions. And yet a player in Bynum, known to have troublesome knees since the winter of 2007, will cash $16.9 million worth of insurance company checks this season while sitting out with issues even the most basic of sports fan has known about for a half-decade.

Ha. Ha.

It is just fine to take issue with Andrew Bynum’s absence. He is not a mindful driver, and it’s important to remember that his rehabilitation setback occurred last fall when he injured his knee while bowling – a sport that sounds innocuous enough until you consider the pressure a recovering knee is placed under once you have to stop on a dime in order to fire the ball down the lane.

He’d also, if you wouldn’t mind, like it if you would allow him to return from a significant knee injury at his own pace. Bynum isn’t sure if he’ll play this year because he kind of wants the rest of his life (you know, the part past your mid-30s that most people get to enjoy without crippling pain) to go as normally as possible. He’d like to walk normally for over half of his life. Crazy, I know.

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And, in a more cynical take, it’s worth noting that if Bynum returned to play too early on a knee that wasn’t ready, he could re-injure it to a point that would force microfracture surgery. Now, microfracture surgery works, it’s been proven through over a decade’s worth of NBA years, but the procedure would knock a year off of Bynum’s career, and hamstring his attempts on the free agent market this summer. It isn’t fair in the slightest to 76er fans that Bynum has rehabilitated this way, and used their entire season to muse about his future – but it’s his future, and not ours.

Even though we can’t stop rolling our eyes at the guy.

At least, in this lose (Bynum), lose (76ers), lose (coach Doug Collins), lose (most importantly, fans), lose situation, the biggest loser will be the insurance company that has to pay Andrew Bynum $16.9 million for absolutely nothing.

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