Nothin' but Net: The perils of bowling

When the book is written on Andrew Bynum, bowling will now take a prominent place.

Bowling embodies the latest setback in the career of a 25-year-old with knees that appear to have the molecular strength of potato-chip laden tinsel.

Bynum announced on Friday he suffered a "setback" with his left knee. For those of you that have trouble keeping up with Bynum's myriad of knee ailments, this actually occurred on what could laughingly be described as the "good" knee.

Bynum was already out of action with a right knee bone bruise and Friday's news certainly deflated both Bynum, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

News like this is shattering enough for all parties involved, but when you hear how it happened, it's almost cruelly hilarious.

"I think it happened bowling, to be honest," Bynum said before the Sixers' game Sunday evening. "I don't think anybody could've told me I couldn't do that."

Yep, bowling.

The thing you do with lite beer, nachos and bad shoes knocked Bynum out for longer?

"I didn't twist it, I didn't fall or nothing. You do that, which is relatively nothing, three steps."

With Bynum, and his knees, three steps are all it takes.

When Bynum was introduced as the newest 76er, acquired in a summer blockbuster one step below "The Avengers," Philadelphia fans believed the first superstar since Allen Iverson arrived.

He has yet to play a minute for his new team. The timetable for his return didn't change, sometime around early December for basketball activities, but if you believe that, you may believe someone is going to "ho-ho" down your chimney in a few weeks.

The Sixers are keeping their heads above water in Bynum's absence with a 6-4 record. Without Bynum, head coach Doug Collins is making due with Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown. Combine the production from the three of them, and you're frankly not close to what Collins and company expected from Bynum.

Collins, who offered support and hope when speaking Friday, neglected to speak on Bynum's comments about the injury on Sunday.

"They've been kind of supportive. Obviously, in hindsight, I guess you shouldn't go bowling. It's not more than anything I've done in rehab," said Bynum of the organization's position.

Let's be clear - Bynum shouldn't be criticized for the injury occurring at a bowling alley. It's not like he was in a brawl at one, or jumping off the top of one.

"I'm kind of taking the position of, if that happened bowling, it would've happened jumping. I don't see anything wrong with going bowling," Bynum said.

This latest setback begs the question - what can this guy do, if he can't stay healthy trying something as low-impact as bowling? Pinochle? Darts? Knitting?

In looking back, no one, not Bynum, not the Sixers, not even the doctors can tell how he hurt himself bowling. Looking forward, no one can anyone offer an answer how to get Bynum back on the floor.

"There's no surgical procedures that will really help, or are safe to do at the moment. I have to bide my time," he said.

Time is on no one's side. Bynum is coming off his first All-Star appearance last season and will be a free agent at the end of this one. He was expected to get max money from the Sixers and probably get another max contract after that one.

Bynum's on-court brilliance may get overshadowed. Would you feel comfortable if your team offered that kind of money, for that length of time on a kid who can't get on the floor?

The Portland Trail Blazers cut ties with Greg Oden. No one is comparing the two. Bynum's body of work is miles past anything Oden ever dreamed of accomplishing, but this injury history will hurt Bynum come negotiation time.

It's easy to just assume that some team will offer max money. You're right, some team probably will if Brook Lopez can get top dollar. But the possibility exists that Bynum is never the same as he was last season when he played in all 60 regular-season games. Could a team give such a serious commitment to a guy you might be able to count on for 50 games a season tops?

Bynum has done as much good as he can in this tricky spot. He went to Germany for the Orthokine treatments on both of his knees a week before training camp and the possibility looms that those shots could have had a hand in this step backward.

"It's a possibility," he admitted. "I came back feeling pretty good from Germany. I have no idea."

Bynum was completely candid about the bowling aspect of things. He chuckled at times, probably because he had nothing to hide. Who could possibly conceive a notion so ludicrous that he would injure cartilage in his knee rolling a 14- pound ball?

With Bynum, perhaps everyone should have.

And the Sixers are in perhaps the diciest spot. This team had legitimate hope of losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals with Bynum anchoring emerging guards Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.

Philly parted with valuable swingman, defensive specialist and Olympic gold- medal winner, Andre Iguodala to get Bynum. It was a great trade to bring in a legit, low-post stud. Now, it looks like they parted ways with Iguodala for a tall man who can wear a suit.

That may not have been a bad things for the 76ers. Iguodala's time was grating on the fan base and he didn't have many nice words for Collins on his way to Denver.

But not having Bynum out there leaves a huge void. The Sixers are the third- best defensive team in the NBA, but the third-worst scoring team. They average 42 rebounds, but give up 44. Imagine what a 7-footer with an 18.7 ppg and an 11.8 rpg average from a season ago could do.

"It sucks, I just don't know what to expect," Bynum said.

No one does. Just don't expect him back anytime soon.