Local Hoops: Bynum returns to practice with Maccabi

Teammates express support for him despite questioning his judgment in hit and run incident.

bynum 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
bynum 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Three days after seeing his teammate at one of his lowest moments, Maccabi Tel Aviv captain Derrick Sharp welcomed Will Bynum back to the Nokia Arena on Tuesday with a lengthy embrace. Sharp, who was at Tel Aviv Magistrate Court on Saturday when Bynum's arrest was extended for the first time, hugged his friend in such a way that it seemed as though he was scared that should he let go Bynum might have to return to prison. "It's great Will is back, but there's still a long way to go and we just hope everything works out," Sharp said on Tuesday. "Sometimes we forget that we have to live and not just play. There's life outside basketball and some far more important things people have to worry about. Basketball is the least of his worries right now. We're behind him and we support him." Bynum was surprisingly released from prison to house arrest on Monday night despite being remanded for another two days in jail on Sunday after his alleged involvement in a hit and run incident in south Tel Aviv on Saturday morning. The American guard was given permission to attend the team's training sessions but will not be allowed to leave the country in the next 30 days without special permission from the police. Marcus Fizer has known Bynum longer than any of the Maccabi players and he was delighted to have his teammate back. "This is a big thing to me personally," Fizer said. "I've known Will for 4-5 years. He grew up in Chicago and I played a lot of basketball with him in the summer. We're really close friends and to see him back in training really lifts a burden from my heart. "I'll only talk to him about basketball. If Will wants to talk about what happened, that's his decision. We're not going to force him to speak about anything he's uncomfortable about. Will is a strong guy. He's been through a lot of things in his life and basketball is his passion and that will help him." Fizer was, however, critical of Bynum's behavior on Saturday. "Team rules are team rules and he violated team roles and he's going to be fined," Fizer said. "Tzvika Sherf asked us not to go out, but this isn't going to cause a rift in the team. It's just a bad piece of judgment. I'm a bit disappointed with his lack of judgment. Going out at such late hours and putting himself in a situation that probably wasn't the best situation. But I'm not disappointed in him as a man." Uruguayan center Esteban Batista, who has only known Bynum for a couple of months, was thrilled to see his teammate again and revealed that the recent incident has brought the Maccabi management to introduce new rules. "I will be happy to see him because I know he's a good person," Batista said. "It's not good what happened the other day, but I won't say anything bad about my teammate. Now we have new rules and we have to respect them. We can go out, but we have to be extra careful."