Stop us if you have heard this one before ...
In his weekly media update, Sixers center Andrew Bynum said he thinks he is a week away from hitting the practice floor. Make that a week or two.
“It’s the next step,” said Bynum, who will be out for his 52nd straight game on Wednesday night.
From the half-full perspective, Bynum has picked up his basketball-related activities and says that a return to full-contact work is the next step on his rehab plan. Bynum also said that he was planning to visit with orthopedist Dr. Jonathan Glashow in New York City on Wednesday.
Glashow is the same doctor who performed the surgery to repair the cartilage in Jason Richardson’s knee.
“I can hurt it more by playing,” said Bynum, who noted that there are no surgical procedures on the horizon.
Still, for the first time Bynum said definitively that he will have to play through pain.
“Yeah, [I’m 100 percent sure I’ll play this year],” Bynum said. “I don’t see any surgeries and no doctor has told me I need them. I think I just have to grind up the cartilage that’s loose and I’ll feel better, so that’s what we’re working on doing.
“I think it’s just dealing with it, to be honest. Without some type of intervention or surgery it’s just dealing with it.”
Sixers coach Doug Collins can relate. Collins’ All-Star career was cut short by injuries when he attempted to play through a broken foot and ended up tearing up his knee. According to Collins, once a veteran NBA player has a significant injury, he will deal with pain for the rest of his career.
“Yes, you have to. That’s just the way it is,” Collins said about playing with pain. “I think the big thing for him is that he doesn’t get the swelling. The swelling is what incapacitates you. If you can keep the swelling out of it he’ll be able to manage it.”
As far as a return for Bynum goes, Collins said it’s up to the player.
“He’s really the only one who knows. Everyone else is just speculating,” Collins said. “But I think he’s feeling better and I think he knows that at some point he’s going to play through pain. I talked to him this morning and told him that once you’ve been around the NBA for a while and have had some injuries, very rarely do you feel great. You always have some aches and pains. But I think he can compete and do well.”
Yes, Bynum is as good any big man in the NBA and will transform the Sixers. He says he needs to improve his explosiveness and footwork, but his shot is just as good as ever.
So no matter what the rest of the season holds for Bynum, he’s going to be working out with the aim at returning to the court.
“For me I have to do as much as possible. I think that’s kind of where [Chicago’s injured point guard Derrick Rose] is,” Bynum said. “It’s a balance. You have to do as much as possible to stay in shape and stay in the game because if you go away from the game you get out of shape and you gain weight and you lose touch.”
He added: “I just want to get healthy. I think everyone in the league knows what I can do at this point.
“After you play in this league for quite some time, I think you just wind up getting used to things and this is something I have to get used to,” Bynum added. “It's been worse than now, but it's getting better. I was able to do my entire workout today. It was painful, but I could push through it. It didn't linger like it did in the past.”
And though Collins anticipates Bynum’s return, he can’t allow himself to get excited.
“I have to coach the team like he’s not [coming back],” Collins said.
After 51 games, Collins has had pretty good practice at it.