Reviewing ‘The Andrew Bynum Experiment’

The Andrew Bynum Experiment didn’t work out.

His knees didn’t hold up and so all we can do is imagine the “what ifs.” If his knees had not broken down yet again, who knows how he may have impacted the Pacers.

TMZ spotted Bynum at LAX Thursday and had a short interaction with him on camera – the first time he has talked since leaving the Pacers (at least that I have seen).

When asked whether he’ll come back with full health and look like the Andrew Bynum of old, he replied, “I don’t think so.”

As he was walking to his car, the paparazzi followed up by asking how his legs are feeling.

“Good enough to walk around with,” Bynum said. Fitting response because it’s simple, short and accurate. But also because Bynum, who doesn’t easily engage in conversation easily and especially not with strangers, was clearly annoyed.

His knees are shot. Over the last few years, he has been treated by multiple training staffs. Shortly after arriving, he credited Indiana’s for using unique treatment tactics that had never been used on him before. Unfortunately, not even they could get him right.

The addition of Bynum lit a fire underneath backup center Ian Mahinmi, who thereafter played his best ball of the season. Starter Roy Hibbert’s end-of-season struggles are well-documented and it’d be hard not to say bringing Bynum in didn’t affect him at least a little bit.

“The Andrew Bynum deal was you have to take a shot,” Pacers President Larry Bird said at his end of the year press conference. “He just played 20-something games in Cleveland. Good kid. Really enjoyed him. I was around him quite a bit. In the Detroit game, he tweaked something in his knee, in his so-called ‘good knee.’ He went ahead and played through it, and then couldn’t keep the swelling down.”

It cost the team $1 million, plus headaches and backlash. But Bird believed it was worth the low risk, high reward gamble.

“To me that was a no-brainer move,” said Bird.

There was a moment of pause with Bynum when he spoke to local reporters for the first time since joining the Pacers. When I asked what he had been up to since being traded to and then waived by the Chicago Bulls, Bynum said, “Just relaxing at home. That’s it.” So he hadn’t kept a workout regiment. Nothing.

Bynum, who’s just 26-years-old, was signed on Feb. 1 but it took him more than a month to join his new teammates on the floor for a game. He averaged 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games he played over a five-day period, and just 36 minutes total. Almost a week later, on Mar. 21, the team announced that he “has continued soreness and swelling in his right knee” and would be out indefinitely.

The last weekend in March, Bynum was sent by the team down to Florida to be looked at by the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews. The team insisted that he visit Dr. Andrews. Bynum said it was his first time he had been evaluated by Dr. Andrews.

A few days after the visit – and more than two weeks after he last played in Detroit, Bynum told me, “No, it’s not feeling better.”

Injured players have the option of not traveling to road games and before the team left for Atlanta and Game 6 of their first-round series, Bynum asked Vogel if it was fine for him to stay behind. Coach OK’d it.

“He and Larry talked,” Vogel said before Game 2 of their second-round series against Washington. “He made multiple efforts to try and get back on the court. The knee wasn’t responding and they made the decision that it wasn’t going to work out.”

And that put an end to the Andrew Bynum Experiment.

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