Chris Andersen played small time college basketball at Blinn junior college in Texas. After his career there, he played for a while in the IBA for the Fargo-Moorehead Beez. Post IBA, he was drafted to the NBDL Fayetteville Patriots in 2001, number one overall, and was quickly absorbed by the Nuggets in November that same season. It would have seemed that Andersen was finally getting to where he dreamed of being. He had a cult following in Denver. He had received a notorious nickname, “The Birdman”; because of his high-flying tip slams and super high-octane play off the bench. Everything was clicking for Andersen. It seemed like a real Cinderella story.
A little embarrassing was his showing in the 2005 NBA dunk contest when he tried to expose the rest of the league to his dunking specialties. It took Birdman eight attempts to get one flush down. It could have been nerves, or maybe that Chris is just a game time spur of the moment yammer. Who knows? If this were the last of Chris Andersen’s embarrassments it would have been a best-case scenario.
Fast-forward a season. Chris Andersen was still in a New Orleans Hornets jersey and seemed to be adjusting to a new franchise just fine. He was still a fan favorite due to his charismatic play and it seemed like the same reasons the Nuggets utilized him were carrying over to the Hornets. There was only one problem… The Birdman had tested positive for what the NBA calls “drugs for abuse.” The drugs on that list are amphetamine and its analogs, which include methamphetamine; cocaine; LSD; opiates, including heroin, codeine and morphine; and PCP. Because of the leagues collective bargaining agreement, the details of the allegations are classified, but the infamous speculations are real.
The Birdman now becomes the first player since Stanley Roberts in 1999 to be kicked out of the league because of drug abuse. Andersen must wait two years now before he can apply for reinstatement to the NBA. Union spokesman Dan Wasserman had this to say about the matter, “The players' association plans on filing a grievance on Chris Andersen's behalf. Our expectation is that a grievance hearing will take place.” An independent grievance arbitrator will hear that hearing later this year.
For now, the Birdman has plenty of time to think about what led him astray from his basketball dreams. Any speculation on how this will unfold is merely that, speculation. A player like Andersen, who has always been surrounded my mystery, has given us a new fold in the drama. I personally enjoyed the Birdman’s game. Not spectacular, but entertaining. He was a unique NBA personality and I hope for a favorable and speedy conclusion. Best of luck in the future Birdman, best of luck.
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