Sunday, November 10, 2013

They Booed Bynum

They booed Andrew Bynum in Philly.
This is not a surprise. It is Philadelphia, after all, and while the legend of pelting Santa with snowballs has been blown out of all proportion, the fans do like to show their displeasure with enthusiasm. And Andrew Bynum is someone the formerly apathetic Sixers fanbase is mightily displeased with.

And really, can you blame them. Bynum arrived in town last year as the centerpiece of a megadeal that cost the team its reigning star, Andre Iguodala, and a fair bit of other talent. He was a local-ish boy heading into free agency, and in the dreamy dreams of Sixers fans he'd come home, dominate the Eastern Conference as the best big man this side of Dwight Howard, and sign a long-term deal to be the team's centerpiece moving forward.
Instead, he had what were optimistically described as "bone bruises" in his knees. So he was going to miss some of training camp. Then maybe a couple of games. Then he'd be back by Christmas. Then, well, you get the idea. He shut it down amidst a haze of stories about bowling accidents and indifferent rehab efforts and, for crying out loud, how the hell are you gonna explain to the guys down on Passayunk Avenue how a coupla bruises kept a guy out all year?
The year ended, a mediocre disaster for the team. Bynum left as a free agent. And management blew the whole thing up. The Bynum trade got written off as a sunk cost, and in time honored tradition, the team decided that abject misery for a year or two with a side of high draft picks was a lot more palatable than constantly hanging around the fight for the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference and the job of  Official First Speedbump For The Heat. More recognizable players left. The coach left. Draft picks, and, eventually, a new coach came in.
As for Bynum, he signed with the Cavaliers, and when the season rolled around, he played. Not much, and not always well, but he played. And he played in Philly in Friday, and they booed him. He says he didn't understand why, but it's pretty easy to see. Philadelphia fans, almost more than wins, wand their sports heroes to visibly try. Bynum, who cost so much and inspired so many dreams, didn't hold up his end of the bargain. Bone bruises? That's what you get banging your knee going down the slide in the playground as a kid. That's not what keeps a grown man out all season, especially not a grown man who's supposedly there to bang LeBron around and lock elbows with the Roy Hibberts of the world.
So they booed, and they'll keep booing, and while they do that they'll wait on top pick Nerlens Noel to recover from his leg injury, so they can build a dream on him.
Kid, the clock is ticking.
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