Pinhead setback for Sixers' Bynum

Posted: November 19, 2012

BOWLING? Are you kidding me? Bowling?

On Sunday, Sixers center Andrew Bynum said he does indeed believe that he injured his left knee while bowling a week ago Saturday - thus confirming what was first reported by ESPN via Twitter just before midnight on Saturday.

Injured the left knee, I point out to you - not reinjured the right knee that has kept him from practicing even once since being acquired in August.

"Same exact injury, mirror images of the knees," Bynum said. "I think it happened bowling, to be honest.

"I don't think anybody could've told me I couldn't do that. I was doing squatting in the low-impact training. It is what it is. The cartilage is in a weakened state . . .

"I didn't do anything [while bowling]. I didn't twist it or fall or nothing. [The left knee] got big [after bowling]."

Considering the issues with his right knee, it's hard to stomach that Bynum has now suffered a similar injury in his left knee while bowling.

Well, at this point all you can do is poke a little fun at it:

Bowling, we're sitting here, and Bynum is supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about bowling. I mean, listen, we're sitting here talking about bowling, not a practice, not a game, but we're talking about bowling. Not the game that Bynum goes out there and dies for and participates in every practice like it's his last, but we're talking about bowling, man. How silly is that?

Still, Bynum's health is critically important to the short- and long-term health of the franchise. Before Friday's game against Utah, he told the media that he now has bone bruises in both knees. He also announced the previously unknown news that his doctor told him that both knees were in a "weakened cartilage state." Of course on Friday, Bynum left out the small detail that he had hurt the left knee while bowling a week earlier.

ESPN tweeted that information just before midnight on Saturday. And while I am not saying for sure that Bynum didn't tell the Sixers about his cosmic bowling adventure, the timeline and their reactions during it certainly suggest that they didn't know until ESPN told them.

To be fair to the Sixers, they are in the midst of playing the NBA schedule, which didn't stop because Bynum can't play.

Bynum's health is not something coach Doug Collins and his players can give a lot of thought to because they have the business of trying to win games to worry about.

They beat Cleveland, 86-79, on Sunday.

Still, this Bynum thing is clearly frustrating for everyone, especially the fans who are beginning to think the Sixers got the only lemon in the deal that moved 12 players and three first-round draft picks among the Sixers, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets.

The Sixers are just hoping this newest setback doesn't end up delaying Bynum's anticipated return to the court in January.

"They've been supportive," Bynum, 25, said of the Sixers' reaction to his latest setback. "In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have been bowling, but it's not more than anything I've done in my rehab."

I know that in situations like this, people want answers and set timetables, and when that isn't given, speculation can sometimes get out of control.

But I'll disagree with anyone who is beginning to say that Bynum simply doesn't want to play.

I believe that Bynum is more frustrated than anyone that he has not been able to return to the court.

I think he is starting to have serious concerns about what's going on with his knees and the long-term implications.

If Bynum's good knee suddenly goes bad after a night of bowling, how are both knees going to hold up once he returns to the rigors of NBA play?

"Obviously, that's the question that all the doctors kind of have, and myself," he said. "You do that [bowling], which is relatively nothing - three steps.

"What would happen when you play? I think that's the most important thing and why everyone is being so cautious. I can't answer that and [the doctors] can't now, either. We're trying to figure out what's going on."

Bynum may have done something stupid by bowling with the current state of his knee, but he's not stupid.

He knows there are about 100 million reasons for him to get back out on the basketball court and show the Sixers and every other NBA team that might be interested in acquiring an All-Star big man next season that he can again play consistently and constantly at a high level.

"It sucks, No. 1," Bynum said of his knee issues. "And No. 2, I just don't know what to expect. There's really nothing more to say about it. It's what happened.

"I have issues with my knees and we're going to try and resolve it. There's no surgical procedures that would really help or are safe to do at the moment. I just kind of have to bide my time."

When Bynum puts it that way, maybe it's better to be talking about bowling.

Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: philly.com/Smallwood

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