A desire to play professional basketball would seemingly be a very important part of a professional basketball player's successful career. But, you know, maybe not.
Officially, the Cleveland Cavaliers suspended 26-year-old center Andrew Bynum indefinitely on Saturday for "conduct detrimental to the team." He did not travel with the team to Boston, and he will not participate in any more practices for the foreseeable future.
A reason for the suspension —what he did, exactly — was never given. Usually in these situations the player did something dumb off the field — drinking, drugs, that stuff. But it's much more complicated, and strange, than anyone could expect.
"He doesn't want to play basketball anymore," a league source told Yahoo Sports's Adrian Wojnarowski, widely-regarded as the most well-connected reporter in basketball, and Marc Spears. If it comes from Woj, it's probably true.
"He never liked it that much in the first place," the source said.
According to Woj, the Cavaliers had to convince Bynum to not quit on at least one $24.8 million deal with Cleveland before this season began. But apparently other teams courting Bynum "were concerned about his desire to play and commitment to continue the rehab needed for him to play in the NBA after repeated knee problems," Woj reports. Cleveland knew he was a risk and signed him to a multi-million dollar deal anyway.
Other less-connected sources saw early warnings too:
In 2010, Andrew Bynum delayed offseason knee surgery so he could attend the World Cup without crutches. Like we didn't see this coming.— Nog Ziller (@teamziller) December 28, 2013
Cleveland will now look to trade Bynum, according to ESPN, though they may not have much success. His contract his huge and he hasn't played well this season. You never know — he may even retire.
To get paid so much — more than $75 million over his career, plus endorsements — for something you don't even like is kind of remarkable. "Andrew Bynum found someone to pay him for something he didn't even want to do. Three times. You hate on that and you hate your own dreams," Myles Brown said, over Twitter. But not everyone believes Bynum has played his last professional basketball game:
To say Bynum never liked hoop is ridiculous. He doesn’t like constantly being hurt, constantly having to rehab and having diminished game— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) December 28, 2013
…And given Bynum has made millions and is a person with a ton of interests (read @SI_LeeJenkins feature on him), I’m not surprised.— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) December 28, 2013
On this Bynum thing, there's a big difference between "I'm not having fun playing basketball" and "I don't think basketball is fun".— Consumable Huxtable (@ShrillCosby) December 28, 2013
The case of the professional basketball player who doesn't want to play basketball anymore is far from closed.