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Sixers created their mess, starting with Andrew Bynum

THEIR SEASON lies in wreckage around them, reduced to rubble by the knees of one player and the hearts of a dozen others.

If the Sixers are to salvage anything from this ruined effort, they must solve problems of their own creation. (Charles Fox/Staff file photo)
If the Sixers are to salvage anything from this ruined effort, they must solve problems of their own creation. (Charles Fox/Staff file photo)Read moreCharles Fox / Staff Photographer

THEIR SEASON lies in wreckage around them, reduced to rubble by the knees of one player and the hearts of a dozen others.

If the Sixers are to salvage anything from this ruined effort, they must solve problems of their own creation.

They need to solve the Bynum Paradox, and they need to start playing hard.

Andrew Bynum, accountable to no one, appears unlikely to play a game for the Sixers this season.

Most of the rest of the team, seeing the treatment afforded Bynum, has quit.

Both problems might be impossible to fix, especially since the Sixers finish with a hellish schedule. Still, they must try.

The Sixers created this problem when they threw a party to introduce Bynum to the city after they traded a total of four first-round picks for him. What was supposed to be a news conference was, in fact, a choreographed circus.

The Sixers sent in the clowns: hired a band, trotted out their brass and, in the mezzanine of the crowded National Constitution Center, they opened to the public what should have been a private, controlled, serious session of questioning, during which the very real issues of Bynum's health and attitude were examined in depth.

Bynum showed up for the event in a T-shirt and sweat pants, hair uncombed. The disregard for his new employers, for the assembled press and, yes, even the hundreds of hysterical fans, was breathtaking.

Typical for him, it turns out.

The Sixers' message that day to Bynum: You can do no wrong.

Owner Josh Harris' response, when asked whether he would extend Bynum to a max deal: "Where do I sign? Show me the contract!"

Bynum, then 24, had to be stunned at the reception. He realized he did not deserve it.

Because of his knees and his attitude, he has never been a lunch-pail professional in any of his seasons since leaving high school for the NBA in 2005.

As the music and the plaudits washed over him in that ridiculous scene, Bynum knew he had at least two knee procedures scheduled, and he knew he would refuse to play in pain anymore. He will have made almost $50 million by the end of this season. He does not need the money.

He might have suffered for a title contender, like the Lakers, who shipped him to Philly with a snicker; but surely not for a playoff hopeful like Philadelphia, which traded its All-Star and Olympian, Andre Iguodala, one of the aforementioned four first-rounders.

Amid the instant adoration, Bynum realized he could do as he pleased.

He could wag this dog forever.

He has wagged away.

Tuesday night, he didn't even bother to show up. Not until 40 minutes before the game, for which he made more than $200,000. Then, he blew off a scheduled, weekly press availability to address his status after his first practice with the team, ever.

That occurred Friday. Sixers coach Doug Collins was unimpressed with Bynum's work.

Bynum now will not have to speak about his condition until Friday, since the team did not practice Wednesday, and since he will not travel to their expected humiliation in Chicago on Thursday night.

Rest assured, Bynum will not suffer any discipline for Tuesday's actions.

When the Sixers traded Iguodala, let Lou Williams walk via free agency and used their amnesty out for Elton Brand, they left their locker room with a vacuum of leadership.

Jason Richardson, the other portion of the Bynum deal (he attended that ridiculous news conference in a coat and tie), filled that role lightly and briefly. He lasted 33 unremarkable games before a knee injury ended his year.

Now, rudderless and Bynum-less, the Sixers have learned how to lose.

The loss Tuesday to visiting Orlando nearly unhinged Collins. None of the 11 available Magic players was on the roster last season. Eight were rookies or first-year players. All have huge holes in their games.

They had lost 10 straight road games.

Collins used analogy and comparison, and he called his players soft and lazy and indifferent. He said the players were not accountable to one another. He said he had tried everything he knew to get this bunch of entitled boys to play like men.

Then, Collins canceled Wednesday's practice.

He said his mind was numbed.

Really, he was just disgusted.

Even without Bynum, Collins is coaching a club as talented as it is fickle.

He had a hand in this. Back in August, Collins crowed right alongside his bosses at Bynum's arrival. Now, Collins will not call Bynum out.

Perhaps he is muzzled by his employer. Surely, he is worried about alienating Bynum, a noted pouter. Bynum will be a free agent after this lost season. The Sixers will seek to re-sign him.

Still, he wags.

Collins saw this coming 3 weeks ago, with his team puttering along decently. Collins said he warned young guards Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner:

"When you lead, you have to do it all the time. By either example, or by voice, or by both . . . Losing has to get to a point where guys say, 'I don't want to lose' . . . Losing's easy. Don't fall into that pattern that it's OK to lose. You have to demand more of yourself and your teammates. That's what great players do."

Great players see teammates playing like punks and they sidle over to the coach, and they tell the coach to get that bum off the floor. That's what Michael Jordan did with Collins in Chicago, Collins said.

You think Jordan ever let a Bull walk to the opening tip not sweating, as Collins accused three of his own players Tuesday night? You think Jordan ever let a Bull steal $200,000 a night because he wasn't "pain-free"?

Imagine where Jordan would have shoved the bowling ball if Scottie Pippen aggravated an injury while kegeling.

Perhaps the rest of the team should not be blamed for not policing their own locker room.

Dorell Wright and Nick Young are rentals, cementing their images as flawed, indifferent role players. Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen are content to look over their shoulder for Bynum, because it's easier than using their shoulders to box out. Turner remains locked in a dream world in which he is a scoring point guard. Holiday lacks the maturity or the moxie to bring down the hammer.

Maybe nobody wants to play Bad Cop because, when the Sixers traded for Bynum then threw him a party, they sent this message to the rest of the team:

He's the only guy who matters.