The Philadelphia 76ers have had to feel cheated by Andrew Bynum all season. However, that is nothing compared to how most Sixers fans feel, although there is little they can do but stay away from the Wells Fargo Center. Yet one influential fan joked -- if it was a joke -- about how Bynum’s deal amounted to fraud.
Philadelphia DA Seth Williams asked on Twitter on March 1 “Do I need to launch a grand jury investigation?” on Bynum taking so much money despite not playing a game for the Sixers. It would have been disregarded as a mere Twitter joke, except that Williams kept it going over the next two days.
Williams suggested that “it could be fraud, theft of services or robbery,” that fans “deserve answers” and that coach Doug Collins deserves “players that will hustle and sacrifice like he did.” But he had enough perspective to remember that his hands “were full with murderers and rapists” -- although he did Tweet to Comcast Sports Net’s John Gonzalez that he’d let him know if he decided to actually investigate.
Technically, the contract that Bynum is playing under was originally for the Los Angeles Lakers, as the Sixers merely took it on in last summer’s trade. Yet the Sixers took the responsibility with the trust that Bynum would take the court, despite knowing about his history of knee problems.
That alone could undercut any real case against Bynum, since Philadelphia knew what it was getting even if it didn’t think it was this serious. Nevertheless, just joking about launching a investigation exudes more power than most Sixers fans may feel by now.
The fans can’t threaten to stay away, since attendance was mediocre well before this season. Those who bought season ticket plans because of the Bynum deal may feel cheated, but there may not be enough of those fans to make a dent. There is just a real sense of resignation in Philadelphia, especially with every other pro sports team in town having collapsed over the last year.
As such, having a DA who alluded to real consequences for this mess sounds empowering, if nothing else. Yet with Bynum’s career in danger, the Sixers less likely to resign him this summer and with few options left for either side, all involved are already enduring their fair share of consequences.