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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Monday, March 18, 2013


(Associated Press)
PHILADELPHIA – Over before it began.

Andrew Bynum, traded for in August by the 76ers and expected to carry them to the next level of the NBA hierarchy, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees and will miss the remainder (translation: all) of the season, the team announced Monday night in a statement.

The 7-foot, 300-pound center will undergo surgery Tuesday, the team said.

Bynum's season with the Sixers boils down to these numbers: $16.5 million paid, zero minutes played.

Only eight months ago, the Sixers harbored such high aspirations for their season when they traded for Bynum as part of a blockbuster deal Aug. 14.

They envisioned a team of wings dumping the ball into the post. Or Bynum, who finished second in the league in double-doubles a year ago, kicking out to proven 3-point shooters when defenses collapsed upon him.

They had ideas of winning the Atlantic Division, making the postseason as one of the Eastern Conference's top seeds and maybe getting a sniff of the NBA finals.

Never happened. Any of it.

Without Bynum, the team (and the expectation) that Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo and coach Doug Collins had crafted never materialized, sputtering to last place in the Atlantic with 30 days remaining in the season.

Neither DiLeo nor Bynum were available for comment.

As vague as Bynum's status for the Sixers has been, Bynum has always been clear that he really doesn't know what's going on with his knees. Between the frequently altered haircuts and increasingly negative outcries from fans, Bynum consistently has resembled a confused 25-year-old fearing what's next in his life and career.

The latter, however, looms largely for both parties. An unrestricted free agent after the season, Bynum will garner attention on the market this summer.

(Associated Press)
“Being healthy is more important than everything else. If I am healthy, I'll get a deal,” Bynum said after a March 1 practice. “I have to be able to play and I need to get to the point where I'm healthy to play.”

No one knows exactly when that'll be.

Fans welcomed Bynum with open arms three days after the four-team deal was completed, when he was introduced in an open-to-the-public press conference at the National Constitution Center. The public's reception of Bynum hasn't been nearly as amiable in the months since.

So much has changed since then.

Bynum entered camp with a bum right knee, which he injured in September on an up-and-under move during an individual workout in Los Angeles. From there, he was shut down from basketball-related activity.

The Sixers expected Bynum to be ready for the season opener Oct. 31. He wasn't.

What compounded the right-knee situation was when Bynum, in November, hurt his left knee while bowling. He called the injury “weird” and described it as a “mirror image” in both knees.

Officially, Bynum has missed the season with bilateral bone bruises. Unofficially, fans have challenged his desire to return to the court.

Bynum put that theory to the test Feb. 22, when he asked Collins for permission to jump into a 5-on-5 drill at a team practice. Collins obliged and the Sixers finally got a look at their centerpiece with his teammates. It was the first time Bynum got onto the floor with his team.
It only went downhill from there.

Bynum hasn't spoken to reporters since March 1. That day, he said he had taken on some swelling in his right knee in the days following that Feb. 22 practice. He said it was “a four-, five-day setback.”
Only a few breaths later, Bynum's frustration became evident.

He said he felt no pressure to debut for the Sixers. He said he felt no need to play before he's ready.
“I feel like it's my life, I'm 25 and I don't want to have no cartilage because that's really bad. That's it,” Bynum said.

Twice, Bynum has received joint lubrication injections in both knees. Once, he even flew to Germany for a non-invasive procedure involving plasma. And innumerable times, he has said no surgery is available to cure the issues from which he's suffering.

He's even discussed medical procedures that are in the developmental stages, with physicians “growing cartilage in a Petri dish.”

It appears surgery is the next step for Bynum. Where it leads him from there, no one knows.

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