HANG TIME, Texas — “Oh Andrew, I hardly knew ye.”
Will a variation on the line from the old Irish song be the one Sixers fans are singing at the end of this particularly disappointing season?
Or, knowing Philly fans the way we do, will they be more likely chanting a rather angry chorus of: “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out?”
It’s getting down to crunch time with the Andrew Bynum story as it appears less and less likely that the centerpiece of last summer’s total makeover is going to suit and play this season.
A week after he played five-on-five in practice with his teammates, Bynum has experienced swelling in his right knee. Now he says he doesn’t “want to play with pain.”
Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News looks at the entire convoluted affair and wonders if the Bynum Era is over before it even began:
It has all just been so mind-boggling. Bynum’s final statement to the media Friday will be the one fans will focus on most, when he said, “I don’t want to play with pain.”
Again, confusion. Bynum didn’t say he wouldn’t play with pain, he said he didn’t want to. Certainly, everyone wants to be pain-free, but that’s just not a reality in professional sports. The question is this: Is Bynum willing to play with pain, and, if so, how much?
“Actually the condition, 50 percent of the people in the United States have it now; they just happen to not play basketball,” he said. “It takes on a little bit more shape in my world. It’s frustrating. There’s really nothing yet to do about it [surgically]. I just don’t need a swollen knee.
“I played in LA with a bit of swelling, but it wasn’t this bad. I didn’t really feel the pain when I was playing, but now it’s like really stiff and a lot of pain. Just doing stuff, not even full five-on-five stuff. I played in one scrimmage and it’s a 4- to 5-day setback.”
Four or 5 days now, perhaps 4 or 5 years for the organization. Is there any way the organization would look to bring him back after all that has transpired this season? Can you take that chance? If he isn’t re-signed, then what? Sure, there will be money to work with, but can any signings be as significant or have the type of impact the Bynum trade was supposed to have? Time will tell, but for now, time appears to be running out on a Bynum sighting this season.
“I’m not really concerned [about his future]; it’s more frustrating,” Bynum said. “You do the work, you get to a point and then you have to back down. It’s kind of tough. Now it’s getting really late, so I really don’t know.”
The Sixers have plummeted out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 22-34 record that recently led to a post-game meltdown by coach Doug Collins following an abysmal home loss to Orlando. That led to speculation about Collins’ future. Now the hope of getting Bynum onto the floor for even a glimpse of what he might be able to provide is fading.
The Sixers front office keeps saying that Plan A is to re-sign a healthy Bynum to a new contract next summer. But they also say they have a Plan B in their pocket. Might be time to reach for it.