On Monday night, the Sixers announced that center Andrew Bynum will undergo season-ending knee surgery. Bynum has yet to play for Doug Collins' team, so calling it "season-ending" surgery could be a misnomer.
This morning, I stumbled across a story on NJ.com's Dave D'Alessandro, who spoke with people from Bynum's high school, figuring there would be someone there who could paint Bynum in a different light and somehow change the perception most Philadelphians have of the 25-year-old.
What came out was a story that lends credence to the prevailing assumption that Bynum simply doesn't care. That basketball is just a way to make money. A job. Not a career.
D'Alessandro points out comments made by hall-of-fame players Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that attack Bynum's work ethic, as well as an anonymous Lakers player that last summer said, "I’ve never met another player in the league who likes basketball less" than Bynum.
As damning as those comments are, perhaps the worst of all comes from his high school coach, Jerry Smith:
"Everyone here at school says the same thing: What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like that?" says St. Joe’s athletic director Jerry Smith. "He went from someone we’re proud of to someone whose name we don’t even mention anymore."
Bynum’s coach during his Falcons years — that would be 2003-05, his junior and senior seasons — sounds as though he is under no urgent obligation to defend him, because he’s gone seven years without even being asked to give an assessment of any kind about his former center.
"Yeah, I never respond to that kind of request, because Andrew has chosen not to stay in touch for whatever reason, so I just don’t get involved with it," says Mark Taylor, who now coaches the St. Benedict's Prep powerhouse. "I don’t dislike him, and he’ll continue to do well if he can stay healthy, but I’m sure he’s got people who will guide him in times like this."
Getting a little frosty in here? [Full story from NJ.com]
So has the Bynum era came to a crashing halt before it ever began? I wouldn't recommend re-signing him - just like Charles Barkley - but you never know.
And the fact that it is near impossible to find someone with something positive to say about him is just another reason that the Sixers should look elsewhere.
Unless, of course, we can find some positives in the comments section, but I won't hold my breath.