In February of 2009, Andrew Bynum tore his right MCL after Kobe Bryant fell in to his knee in a game against the Grizzlies. He eventually returned and helped the Lakers win the first of their back-to-back titles. Following the season, the Lakers went to China for a little goodwill tour and a little celebration. Andrew Bynum was there and we’re guessing that’s when the above picture was taken.
That photo is on the celebrity wall at China’s Macau Tower, the second-highest bungee jump in the world. There’s no video or other photos of Bynum completing the jump, but thanks to TBJ fan John Chick who recently snapped the picture during a visit to the tower, we know that it’s pretty likely he took the plunge. I’m guessing they don’t put your picture up unless you complete the jump, plus the harness he’s wearing is the exact same that other people wear when they’re doing this stuff.
The kicker? Bungee jumping is specifically prohibited by the standard player contract, as stated on the NBA Players Association’s website:
12. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES.
The Player and the Team acknowledge and agree that the Player’s participation in certain other activities may impair or destroy his ability and skill as a basketball player, and the Player’s participation in any game or exhibition of basketball other than at the request of the Team may result in injury to him. Accordingly, the Player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the Team, engage in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to: (i) sky-diving, hang gliding, snow skiing, rock or mountain climbing (as distinguished from hiking), rappelling, and bungee jumping; (ii) any fighting, boxing, or wrestling; (iii) driving or riding on a motorcycle or moped; (iv) riding in or on any motorized vehicle in any kind of race or racing contest; (v) operating an aircraft of any kind; (vi) engaging in any other activity excluded or prohibited by or under any insurance policy which the Team procures against the injury, illness or disability to or of the Player, or death of the Player, for which the Player has received written notice from the Team prior to the execution of this Contract; or (vii) participating in any game or exhibition of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or other team sport or competition. If the Player violates this Paragraph 12, he shall be subject to discipline imposed by the Team and/or the Commissioner of the NBA. Nothing contained herein shall be intended to require the Player to obtain the written consent of the Team in order to enable the Player to participate in, as an amateur, the sports of golf, tennis, handball, swimming, hiking, softball, volleyball, and other similar sports that a reasonable person would not recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury.
Bynum was definitely under contract at the time, having signed his big extension earlier in the 2008-09 season, and it’s a safe bet that a team signing a young 7-footer to a huge contract as he is returning from a serious knee injury would include a clause like this in their contracts. So either Bynum had the consent of the team to go bungee jumping — which is theoretically possible since he was traveling with the team — or this was an unsanctioned thing that the Lakers brass would probably be upset about if they knew that’s what he was doing with his free time. Or maybe he has a “For the Love of the Bungee” clause in his contract, where he’s allowed to bungee jump any place, any time and can’t get in trouble. Always a possibility, I suppose.
Nothing bad happened, as Bynum a) is still alive to this very day and b) put up 26 points and 13 rebounds while starting during in Lakers’ season-opening win against the Clippers during the 2009-10 season. But in light of his recent bowling setback, it’s good to remember that Andrew Bynum has always subscribed to the tenets of YOLO, even before it was a hashtag.