Andrew Bynum's injury has been a constant headache for Philadelphia sports fans throughout the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA season. It seems like every week Bynum has another setback on his surgically-repaired knee.
Although fans rejoiced when the Philadelphia Sixers announced that they acquired Andrew Bynum for Andre Iguodala, fans are beginning to wonder if that trade was a good idea in the first place. Andre Iguodala was never a fan favorite in Philadelphia, but Philadelphia fans realize that having a healthy Iguodala is much better than a hurt Bynum.
Not only has Bynum's injury been frustrating, but the way the organization has handled the entire situation has been a disgrace. The team has essentially kept its fans in the dark all season long, and it has started to make people think negatively of the Sixers as an organization.
The complex part of this situation is that Bynum is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. If another team offers Bynum a maximum contract, the Sixers will have to decide whether they want to make that sort of investment on an injury-prone center.
Although many fans think that signing Bynum is a no-brainer, it is not that easy of a decision. For example, look at what happened when the Sixers gave Elton Brand, another injury-prone star, a maximum contract. If they re-sign Bynum to a max deal and he is unable to perform at a star level, then the Sixers will set themselves back for the next five years.
Teams must be sure about a player in order to give them a maximum contract, and I don't think that the Sixers are sure about Bynum's health. This could cause the organization to let Bynum walk and pursue other free agents with the cap space that will be saved by not signing Bynum.
One reason that the Sixers will probably keep Bynum is to keep the fans happy. If they let him walk it will look like they are not trying to build a winning basketball team in the city of Philadelphia.
Even though Bynum's recovery has taken forever, fans have remained relatively positive about the trade for Bynum so far this season. However, if he suffers yet another setback, fans could turn on the Sixers organization for giving up an all-star in Iguodala for a guy who cannot get on the court.
Philadelphia fans won't turn on Bynum, as he still will be a fan favorite, but rather on the Sixers organization for making the trade.
One thing that helps the Sixers' public image in the wake of this whole Bynum saga is the fact that Andre Iguodala has not shown improvement from last season so far with the Denver Nuggets. In addition, of the other pieces that the Sixers traded in the Bynum deal, only Nikola Vucevic has shown to be a productive player.
However, if Iguodala begins to improve from last season it will only add fuel to the fire.
The thing that fans care about most is winning, so as long as the Sixers continue to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference, the fans will remain patient for Bynum's return. However, if the 76ers begin to struggle in the coming months, the fans will begin to turn bitter against the organization.
Sixers' fans bitterness could get worse in the upcoming months because the Sixers could begin to regress from their early season success.
Right now the Sixers have several players that are playing much better than they have in previous seasons. So, if these players, such as Jason Richardson or Nick Young, begin to fall back to their normal career production, the Sixers will begin to struggle. Having a consistently great player is why the Sixers traded for a guy like Bynum in the first place, and now, that is their greatest weakness without him in the lineup.
Essentially, there is no specific time that fans will turn bitter about the trade but rather specific scenarios in which Philadelphia fans will turn bitter. Winning is everything in the city of Philadelphia, and as long as the Sixers make the playoffs and Bynum returns for it, the fans will still consider the Bynum trade a great deal.