Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fly Birdman Fly!

Chris Andersen, AKA Birdman, AKA Birdzilla AKA The Raging Rooster is a monster. Part bad boy part goofiest person ever, Andersen wills his tatooed spindly limbs into the air just at the right times to pull down rebounds, reject shots and dunk the ball energetically.

On the 8th of April I went to the Nuggets game with Dad, Whitney, Vernon and my friends Duncan and Chad. They beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-112. Before leaving, Whitney made me a makeshift Birdman mask. Here it is-

Lucky for me, the Andersen had another huge night- snagging 9 boards and blocking a ridiculous seven shots, more than the rest of the team combined.

The Birdman is a fan favorite with all of his hand gestures and antics playing to his nickname. At first Whitney couldn't stand him though. It's understandable. He constantly walks with a swagger and can almost always be seen with an arrogant smirk on his face (especially when he just finished rocketing an attempted shot into the first row of fans). At first glance, most people would probably think "Wow, this guy is a total jerk."

Granted, He is extremely cocky, but he also has a flair of awkwardness that makes his borderline narcissism more endearing than aggravating. While he can have soaring dunks, he can also miss the dunk in the most embarrassing way. Take for example, the time he competed in the 2004 Slam Dunk Contest. Infamously, he missed his first eight attempts on his first dunk and his first five attempts on his second, drawing open laughter from the players on the sidelines and even ridicule from the TNT commentators.

He also has a work ethic that is to be admired. At the Thunder game he was constantly bouncing up and down- in the pregame warmup, during team huddles, and while he waiting on the sideline to check in. He brings an energy to the Nuggets off the bench that is essential. Also, he can block the ball better than anyone in the league. Andersen is second in the league behind Dwight Howard for the most blocks per game. That is insane considering the fact that he only plays an average of 20 minutes a night. If you go by blocks per minutes played he averages 5.68 blocks per 48 minutes of play, a full two more blocks than Howard.

Simply type Birdman into youtube and you will come up with countless tribute remixes to him. You'll also see some nasty blocked shots. Here are two of my favorite- this one he is hit in the stomach as he blocks a shot, then recovers and proceeds to get two more consecutive blocks in the same possesion

Then there is the time he swats Rudy Fernandez in the face. Talk about insult to injury.

His life story is a good one too. He was raised by his mom in small town Texas after his Dad left the two of them when he was a kid. He was constantly living a life on the edge, pushing limits and getting into trouble. His mother hoped his basketball skills could keep him out of a dead end life. When he was drafted by the Hornets they were both ecstatic. Unfortunately, the quick trip into the spotlight lead Andersen to a path of drugs and recklessness. He was disqualified from the NBA for substance abuse.

In 2008, the NBA let him back in and then in the 2008-2009 season the Nuggets picked him up after the Hornets released him. Since being on the Nuggets he has turned both his basketball and personal career around. Denver has embraced him and the team are now playoff bound and hold the second best record in the Western Conference.