Once considered one of the top centers in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Andrew Bynum, at 26, says he contemplates retiring from the game because knee surgeries have minimized his skill set.
“Retirement was a thought, it was a serious thought. It still is,” the 7-foot Bynum said after Cavs practice Thursday at Temple University. “It’s tough to enjoy the game because of how limited I am physically. I’m working through that. Every now and again I do [think about retirement]. . . It’s still career-threatening. I’m a shell of myself on the court right now. I’m just struggling mentally.”
Bynum, who was traded to Philadelphia last season but did not play because of knee complications, faces his old team tonight. It is unlikely the notoriously harsh 76ers fans will give him a warm reception, especially considering that many believed he did not make getting healthy enough to play a priority last season. In fact, he re-injured the knee while bowling during the season, one of many setbacks.
“If I could’ve played I would have,” Bynum said. “I don’t really care (how the fans will treat him), it is what it is. I was hurt and I’m still hurt, but I’m trying . . . Nothing went bad, nothing went wrong. I think people just need to accept the facts that my knees are the way they are.”
When Bynum played on opening night for the Cavs, it was the first time in more than 560 days that he’d played in an NBA game. He’s played in four games so far, averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13 minutes a game. In the Cavs’ win over Minnesota on Monday, he had 10 points and three blocked shots, in his best effort. But that is far less than what the one-time Los Angeles Laker used to provide.
He says sharp pains remain at times in his knees and he suffers soreness after games.
“I just want to be able to play without pain and find the joy again,” Bynum said. “Right now I’m battling pain and it’s annoying. I’m not able to do the things I’m used to doing and it’s frustrating.”