Recently I was reminded that this week marks the third anniversary of one of the most infamous moments in Philadelphia 76ers history: the signing of Andrew Bynum. I had thought I had done the best I could to expel the revulsion and hatred I had for this sad excuse for an athlete from my psyche, but just seeing his name again brought all those feelings back to the surface. And I came to an inescapable conclusion:
I still hate Andrew Bynum for what he did to this city and the Sixers.
I remember being at the Wells Fargo Center on May 18, 2012 for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and watching the Sixes come from behind and beat the Boston Celtics 92-83. It still ranks as one of the best basketball games I have ever been to and I have the rally towel proudly hanging on my wall. Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner scored 16 points each as the defense got the team back into the game in the second half and they pulled off the win in front of a crowd of over 20,000 fans.
The Sixers would go on to lose to the Celtics in seven games but Doug Collins and his scrappy squad had performed better than anyone had dared hoped in the playoffs, coming in with the worst record of any team in the postseason. Sure, it may have taken both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah getting hurt in the first-round to do it, but why argue semantics?
In any event, the prevailing thought was that if the Sixers could add one more, All-Star caliber free agent, then they could have a decent shot at advancing even further during the 2012-13 season. So it was with much fanfare that the Sixers announced on August 10 they had acquired Bynum and Jason Richardson in a four-team deal that sent Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets as well as sending Maurice Harkless and Nik Vucevic to the Orlando Magic in addition to a protected first round pick.
That Vucevic trade still gives me nightmares to this day.
After the initial announcement, the Sixers decided to introduce their new center to the city at a gala press conference held at the National Constitution Center.
Many, myself included, thought this was the beginning of a new era in Sixers basketball. I eagerly bought season tickets and waited for the wins to start rolling in.
Only, they didn’t.
As everyone knows by now, Bynum’s knees were in a lot worse shape than anyone initially thought. First he missed training camp and then the start of the season with discomfort in his knees. Then things went from bad to just ridiculous as Bynum injured his left knee when he went bowling (Bowling!!) and his weekly updates from his locker after practice became more about his hair than basketball.
On March 19, the Bynum Experiement came to an end when he had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The Sixers would go on to lose 48 games that season and miss the playoffs while Bynum did not play a single minute of basketball but still collected the $16 million he was due.
And I despised him for it.
I watched almost every game that year, waiting for him to make his debut, hoping to see the Sixers rise from the ashes and take the NBA by storm. And I kept waiting, and making excuses, and watching the losses pile up. Until finally I just gave up. For this we gave up Iguodala and Vucevic? So we could watch this piece of trash sit on the sideline? Really?
What really pissed me off about the whole sorry affair wasn’t that the Sixers took a chance on Bynum or that it didn’t work out or even what they gave up in the trade. What really got me was the fact Bynum just didn’t seem to care.
Not once did Bynum show any passion about getting back on the court. Not once did he make an effort to at least show he wanted to play for the Sixers. Instead he just seemed to want to get his check, go home and do whatever it is that he loves to do, because it sure as hell wasn’t playing basketball. And when I think about what Richardson went through to return to the court and play for the Sixers, it only makes me angrier about the time Sixers Nation wasted thinking about this pile of garbage and his knees.
In the long run it was probably for the best, as the Bynum Disaster resulted in the hiring of Sam Hinkie, Collins being replaced by Brett Brown and the Sixers in a much better position to be a very good basketball team for the long run as opposed to the short-term.
But just hearing Bynum’s name can still get my blood boiling. And it probably always will.
Yep, I still hate Andrew Bynum.