Aug 15, 2012, 3:24 PM EDT
The whole scene at the National Constitution Center was a bit surreal on Wednesday afternoon.
Andrew Bynum met Sixers Head Coach Doug Collins for the first time earlier in the morning. Just hours later, surrounded by screaming Sixers fans, Bynum was actually asked — by a reporter, no less — if he could envision what a parade down Broad Street would be like.
I don’t know, but he should probably meet his new teammates first.
His prior knowledge of the Sixers team he’s joining? “Not much,” he said, admitting he looked over the roster *yesterday* and said, “Wow! we’re actually pretty deep.”
It was a circus. And Adam Aron was the ring leader.
That said, the circus is pretty fun, isn’t it?
The crowd of a couple hundred fans that wrapped around the rotunda was impressive and they greeted Bynum with tremendous applause. They even greeted Adam Aaron like some sort of hero with crazy “Thank! You! Adam!” chants — unheard of; what city am I in?
“I’ve never experienced something like that,” Bynum said of walking through the crowd to the podium. “That’s pretty cool, man, the fact that all these fans came out. I’m looking to get it in. This is a golden opportunity for me.”
He couldn’t get the grin off of his face when he first sat down.
“I just lit up.”
The decision to hold the Welcome to Philadelphia press conference for Bynum and Jason Richardson was a unique one, but as far as spectacles go, it most certainly succeeded.
For this one day, Bynum was the pride and joy of Philadelphia sports fans. By all accounts, he doesn’t seem too foolish though, realizing that moments like this can be fleeting.
“Hopefully we see all these people back. We want to see them in the arena,” Bynum said.
That will be the true test of whether or not Bynum has top-tier star power in Philly. A couple hundred fans showing up and screaming in a museum on your first day at work is pretty remarkable, granted, but whether they truly embrace Bynum as a franchise player worthy of filling an too-often half-empty arena every night remains to be seen. For his part, Bynum is embracing being the man for the first time in his career.
“I haven’t been treated like this yet. I’ve always played with Kobe and Pau and they’ve kind of been the forefront guys. I’ve kind of been in the background so now it’s a new opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.”
He seemed to be excited about getting to have the ball in his hands more frequently and was most confident when talking about adding his size and skill in the middle to the previously lacking Sixers.
“I know this team struggled in the playoffs with rebounding and defense. I can bring that all day to this team. Kind of push us over the top and maybe come out of the East.”
Perhaps the only current Sixer with a similar confidence is Evan Turner, but when was the last time a Sixer had that much confidence and could readily deliver on it on a nightly basis? Gotta be No. 3.
As mentioned above, Bynum has yet to meet most of his new teammates, but he is familiar with Spencer Hawes and says he’s looking forward to playing alongside him. “I love playing with the twin tower floor. I’m going to fit right in with that with Spencer and myself. Looking forward to it.”
Finally, as the circus was ending, all of the basketball questions were asked, and more people started showing up at the National Constitution Center to see the Bruce Springsteen exhibit than a 7-footer. I asked Bynum if he still had that custom-painted purple and gold Dodge Charger (photos).
“I sold it, man. I sold that thing.”
As far as cars go though, that one would have fit in nicely at the circus.
The circus is only exciting once in a rare while though. Both Sixers fans and Andrew Bynum hope that excitement translates from the three rings to the hardwood.
Photos by Kevin Drennen for CSN
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