Give ’em The Bird

Published: January 14, 2009

We were rooting for him to get back on the court as much out of the Hornet’s glaring need for frontcourt presence and consistent second-unit hustle as humanitarian interest, but in 2008 these and many other Hornets pages were buzzing about the return of Chris Andersen from his 2-year substance abuse ban. No one seemed to have the insider running on whether he would be physically or mentally buff enough to step back in and help the Bees, but for his will to redeem himself, his cult status and the aforementioned wafer thin depth of big men practically everyone was rooting for The Birdman to make ancient history of his rough past and be soaring in teal again.

Sadly for the Hornets, Andersen’s injection back into the team was strained at best. In less than seven minutes per over five games, Chris seemed to lack the confidence his ambitious comeback required and seemed not to earn the patience of the coaching staff to shepherd him through the readjustment process. Most of us were disappointed but unsuprised – the country boy was known to have struggled with the financial windfall of an NBA contract and turned his distinctive presence into notoriety. When New Orleans failed to embrace the troubled athelete, Andersen’s future as a basketballer looked shaky at best.

Fast forward 12 months. Andersen is averaging near career best numbers (5.3 points and 5.2 boards) in 17+ minutes per game for his hometown Denver Nuggets. He’s a crucial cog in the team’s efficient and entertaining second unit, and playing with more determination and abandon than ever before. As well as giving Andersen a second chance on the court, Denver has given him personal grounding he never found at New Orleans.

As a basketball fan, I can’t help but love Birdman’s story as much as crowds love his play. I just wanted to take a moment to show some respect for this young man’s courage and resolve to pick himself up, and for the Nuggets basketball organisation for bringing back to the game one of it’s true characters.

I just hope he doesn’t peck our eyes out in the playoffs…

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