Andrew Bynum's Knees and Psyche Could Cost Philadelphia 76ers

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2012

Nov 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum (33) during the third quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Wachovia Center. The Sixers defeated the Jazz 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest disappointment of the season for the Philadelphia 76ers has been that their prized offseason acquisition, Andrew Bynum, has yet to play a single second for them.

Bynum has a bone bruise in his right knee, and in what seems like a show of moral support, his left knee has swollen up as well. Hearing Bynum describe the injury makes it seem like an extremely painful thing to go through:

It kind of broke off cartilage and it made the bone bruise bigger.

What really piques my interest in Bynum's injury is how lackadaisical he seems about the whole thing—how very uninterested he seems publicly when it comes to getting well and playing for this 76ers team.

Now, he's probably doing plenty to rehabilitate his knee and get back on the court away from the public eye, but he hasn't done anything to represent that to the public or to the fans of his new basketball team.

In the public, Bynum has had pictures taken of him bowling and playing pop-a-shot at an arcade. They aren't activities that would make or break knee rehabilitation, but it's not something fans like to see.

Bynum recently sat down for an interview in which he dished on pretty much everything you would want to know about his time in Los Angeles.

Playing with a superstar early on is great for a young player, no matter their position. Bynum talked about enjoying the time he spent with Kobe Bryant, at least initially:

I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it's hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously.

Bynum found the flip side of things to be a little less appealing when he was playing second fiddle (or even third fiddle):

Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth.

So what does that all mean exactly? It seems like Bynum was intrigued with becoming a No. 1 option, but isn't that exactly the same attitude Bryant had when he and Shaquille O'Neal feuded in the early 2000s?

On one hand, there's the idea that Bynum is ready to be the No. 1 option on a team and wants to see just how good he is.

On the other hand, there's the thought that his immaturity and disagreements with Kobe ended what could have been another series of terrific teams in Los Angeles, just like it did when Shaq and Kobe split in 2004. 

Beyond all this, there's the question of the seriousness of Bynum's knee injury.

It could be just another injury with Bynum recovering and being fine. Then, there's either the Penny Hardaway or the Grant Hill path.

Hardaway missed a huge chunk of games between 1997 and 2000, playing the highest percentage of games in the 1999 lockout season (kind of like Bynum with last season). Another surgery in 2001 ended Hardaway's career as a superstar and relegated him to being a role player for the remainder of his career.

Hill, of course, spent years battling ankle injuries in Detroit and Orlando, but he was able to sculpt a legitimate Hall of Fame-worthy career following his injuries, thanks to a focus on defense and great decision-making.

Taking it yet another step forward, there's still a question as to whether or not Bynum is going to re-sign with the 76ers.

Given the attitude he's had over the past month or so, it seems that there is no real answer to that question, and we won't have one for quite some time.

It seems like we're in for an interesting series of revelations in the coming months surrounding the league's most puzzling star player.