Andrew Bynum and his Swing on the Edge of a Cliff

Andrew Bynum and his Swing on the Edge of a Cliff

In the city of Banos de Agua Santa in the province of Tungurhua in Ecuador, there’s a swing at the edge of a cliff. It has no safety measures and is referred to as ‘the swing at the end of the world’.

When Andrew Bynum signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two years/$24 million, of which only $6 million is guaranteed, he hopped on his own swing-set. After just losing a full season due to knee injuries, there isn’t much of a safety net for Bynum either.

Just as the swing in Ecuador gives the individual plenty of excitement, the situation for Bynum in Cleveland will be much the same. He will be in a pressure-free situation where getting healthy and back on track will be his number one goal. There won’t be championship aspirations, no one to butt heads with. Just a team looking to improve. And, as he mentioned, a team with passionate and very supportive fans.

“I just know that they’re really, really passionate and I haven’t had the opportunity to play for a city that is really just gonna stand up and really support the team, I’m super excited and I can’t wait to see what it’s like.” – Andrew Bynum

The fear in this situation has very little to do with anything but Bynum’s health. He had bilateral arthroscopic surgery on both knees in March and is still waiting to be medically cleared. The hope is that he’ll be ready come training camp. He missed all of last season with Philadelphia.

The Cavs created a safety net for themselves by guaranteeing only $6 million of the $24; Bynum, however, doesn’t have too many more opportunities ahead of him.

Tim George, Clinic Director at Egoscue-San Diego South, summed up some of Bynum’s knee issues as a result of having a valgus deformity.

“Bynum’s left knee is valgus, or knocked kneed. This occurs when the adductor muscles (inner thigh) and rotational leg muscles compensate for the main posture and gait muscles (the ones that should flex and extend the hips, knees, and legs). When Bynum walks or runs the left knee visibly tracks to the inside and the foot turns out, pivoting on the heel, and rolls inward. This leads to a lot of instability when he walks or runs, and means that any unstable surface could spell disaster for his knee.” – George, Are Some Athletes Injury Prone

At age 25, Bynum has already had four knee-related surgeries. The first came during the 2007-2008 season, when he missed 46 games. In May 2008, Bynum underwent arthroscopic surgery on his kneecap. He finished the year with averages of 13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg and .636 field goal percentage.

He played through a great deal of pain during the 2009-2010 season, choosing to postpone surgery until after the playoff run. The Lakers repeated as champs and Bynum had a surgery to fix his torn meniscus on July 28, 2010. The delay would force him to miss the first two months of the 2010-2011 regular season.

On Aug. 10, 2012, Bynum was sent to Philly in a four-team deal that also sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets. After almost a full-season’s worth of injury rumors, it was reported in February 2013 that Bynum’s knees had begun to degenerate. He had arthroscopic surgery on both knees on March 19, 2013.

Bynum played in and started 60 games in his final season with the Lakers. He finished the regular season with career highs in minutes per game (35.2), rebounds per game (11.8, NBA 3rd overall), and points per game (18.7). He also finished with the 3rd highest field-goal percentage in the league. Bynum ended the season 10th overall in Player Efficiency Rating with a PER of 23.00.

All that, however, is a distant memory. Bynum’s apathetic attitude towards not playing all of last season left some fans and critics questioning his desire.

Cleveland GM Chris Grant wasn’t dissuaded by Bynum’s most recent SportsCenter appearances, most of which related to his injuries or hair-styles.

“We’re all aware of what his injuries have been,” Grant said earlier in July. “He’s also well aware of that and has taken ownership of the process. Andrew is in a different place right now and he’s excited to move forward. We’re going to do everything we possibly can.”

At his best, Bynum is dominant on the offensive end and disruptive for the opposition on the defensive end. Bynum is long, has good hands, a soft touch, and coming into his eighth year in the league, should be a much smarter player. The Cavs already have another young star in Kyrie Irving and can look at the Bynum situation as merely an experiment. Things could go poorly, and Cavs won’t have lost much; things could go well and the Cavs would have one of the best Centers in the game to go along with one of the best point guards.

For Bynum, though, hopefully the Y.O.L.O. part of his career is long gone. If he doesn’t take care of his body and take all necessary measures to stay healthy, the swing that has the potential to provide so much will become the seat he rides into obscurity . And if things are progressing along smoothly, maybe, just maybe Coach Brown will let him shoot a three for old time’s sake.