The Philadelphia 76ers and Andrew Bynum have tried to avoid the inevitable for months. However, Bynum finally admitted on March 1 that he might not play this season, with the Philadelphia Inquirer alleging on March 2 that he is considering more surgery. This comes after Bynum admitted he doesn’t want “to play in pain” as cited by USA TODAY, although that may not come off the right way in Philadelphia.
In the current sports culture, playing through pain is considered a hallmark of bravery, especially when it works. For the city of Philadelphia, it has waited for months for Bynum to get healthy, yet it might have to wait forever. If Bynum’s knees will never get fully healthy and if he is unable to play through that pain, it would feel like even more of a cheat.
With the 2012-13 season all but lost and with Bynum becoming too risky for a long-term deal, the Sixers’ future may well be left in tatters because he couldn’t play. After all that was promised last summer when Bynum came to town, not getting a single minute from him in a Sixers uniform would be one of the great cheats in Philadelphia sports history.
Leaving that in mind, Bynum’s reluctance to play through any pain doesn’t come across well, especially since he may not return to the Sixers when he does get healthier. In addition, much of this could have been avoided if Bynum didn’t suffer his infamous bowling injury last winter, or if the Sixers had shut him down before his latest setback this week.
Yet according to ESPN’s Skip Bayless on March 1, Bynum’s knees are officially seen as “degenerative.” If this is true, that is the kind of pain which cannot be overcome, at least not in the next few months. What’s more, it would make the Sixers and every other team more reluctant to trust him for the next few years.
This is no ordinary pain for Bynum to overcome. However, he isn’t battling it under ordinary circumstances either. He may indeed have to play with some pain for the rest of his career, yet Philadelphia may not be easy on him or the franchise if he can never do it here.