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Andrew Bynum’s career will be forever linked to bowling

Andrew Bynum enjoyed several strong seasons with the Lakers.
Andrew Bynum enjoyed several strong seasons with the Lakers.
Harry How / Getty Images

This story originally ran July 2, 2013 and is being updated with a postscript.

Former Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum was the subject of some ribbing in Monday’s Los Angeles Times sports section.

The reason: His ignominious bowling injury was recounted as the Philadelphia 76ers 7-footer awaits offers as a free agent.

He missed the past season with knee injuries and admitted in November that he hurt his left knee while bowling as he was rehabilitating from an injury to his right knee.

Bynum is not the only person to have suffered an injury while bowling – although he certainly ranks as one of the tallest. And one has to question the judgment of this injury-prone athlete in heading out to the bowling alleys while trying to recover from an injury.

But that’s another matter.

What does matter is a study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that showed that more than 20,000 people are treated in emergency rooms each year from injuries incurred at bowling alleys, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

For a sport that truly is safe – provided one pays attention – that study is a cautionary note.

The study cited injuries ranging from bowlers suffering tissue damage from frequent bowling to kids’ getting hurt by a heavy ball.

The L.A. Times story says one of the most common injuries comes from a bowler sticking out his or her hand on the automatic ball return – and not looking when the ball pops up.

“Happens all the time,” said one former bowling consultant who was quoted in the Times story. “I’ve seen smashed fingers, broken fingers, broken wrists, just from people not paying attention.”

Another frequent injury comes from slipping and falling while delivering the ball.

It’s important to avoid picking up too much oil on the bottom of your shoes from the lightly-to-heavily oiled other side of the lanes. And it’s important to avoid picking up some foreign substance (popcorn, perhaps?) on your shoes that may prevent you from sliding as you approach the foul line.

Another cause of injury: using a ball that doesn’t fit. That happens most often with bowlers using a ball off the rack. So if you bowl often, get your own ball and make sure the holes are drilled to your hand’s specifications. And if it's not a comfortable fit, have the holes re-drilled.

There are many other ways one can be injured, resulting in bad backs, tennis elbows, etc.

But the bottom line is that bowling is generally safe if you just pay attention. No one wants to suffer a freak injury – leave that to Andrew Bynum.

Postscript: On Wednesday, Bynum was released by the Indiana Pacers, who are in the midst of a second-round NBA playoff series. It may mark the end of the line for Bynum, who played seven seasons for the Lakers and enjoyed several outstanding years for them.

Bynum, known widely as not the most considerate person around, will forever serve as a punchline because of his bowling injury. And that’s sad for bowling, which deserves better than to be linked to Andrew Bynum.

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