In public relations terms, Friday afternoon is take-out-the-trash day. The theory is that you pile up your bad news all at once, bury it under an avalanche of quotidian nonsense and toss the whole thing to the press at a time when as few people as possible will notice. It's a practice that dates back to when newspapers drove the media conversation, because the Saturday morning paper generally had the lowest readership, but it persists.
So when the Sixers announced that they'd issue a statement on Andrew Bynum's medical status for Friday at 5:30, 90 minutes before a game, one had to assume that the news would be bad. With a weekend, at least two games and a weekend of Eagles hand-wringing and garment-rending--to say nothing of Christmas--before most Sixers fans got back to their watercoolers to talk, Occam's Razor said the news would be bad.
Maybe Bynum had suffered another setback and was out for the season. Maybe he'd lose one or both of his legs. Maybe he was unable to play because he'd sucked the vital lifeblood out of Kwame Brown like the Space Jam aliens, and there was no way to reverse the procedure.
Then Sixers GM Tony DiLeo strolled out in front of the team colors, faced the media and did this.
Bynum is not dead, he said. Bynum feels happy. He feels like going for a walk, and he's going to start rehabbing in preparation for game duty.
So that's great news, right?
I have no idea, and from the looks of it, neither do the Sixers. Or Bynum. And if they do, they don't seem particularly eager to share.
And don't get me wrong--as frustrating as it is as a fan and pseudo-analyst that DiLeo delivered a highlight reel of non-answers, I wouldn't change a thing about the way he, Bynum and Doug Collins handled yesterday afternoon's proceedings.
So is he getting better? Yes.
Will he play this season? We hope so.
How soon? We don't know.
When will he progress in his rehab? When he's ready.
When will that be? We don't know.
How do you feel about it? Cautiously optimistic.
They're under no obligation to tell the public everything they know, and even if they were, it makes sense to handle a player as valuable and physically fragile as Bynum with extreme care. Don't nail yourself to the cross of a public timetable. Don't rush Bynum into coming back before he's ready. And above all, don't get the fans and media excited for an event that you can't be completely sure will ever happen, much less put a timetable on when.
So since the Sixers delivered a completely measured announcement that emphasized uncertainty and cautious optimism, I think we should freak out.
This announcement is an ink blot test. I struggle to find an emotional response to which one can't be moved by watching the video from Derek's post.
- Excitement: "Yay, Bynum's coming back!"
- Disappointment: "Boo, Bynum's not coming back now!"
- Anger: "Why didn't the Sixers tell us more? We have a right to know!"
- Indifference: "Meh. Wake me up when there's something to report."
- Pessimism: "Watch--Bynum's going to come back, play five games, then leave as a free agent."
- Fear: "What if he never gets past the first step?"
- Sexual arousal: "Wow, I've never seen braids quite like those. Does it feel warm in here to anyone else?"
See what I mean? If this sounds wishy-washy, it's because this post is unlike most other sports commentary in that doesn't express strong feelings about something or another. So if you want to freak out about this news, go mashuga. Because it could be the first part of the best thing to happen to the Sixers in 15 years, or it could mean absolutely nothing whatsoever.
I just can't tell the difference.