If I had to pick my worst favorite player in the NBA, a guy like Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough would be near the top of the list simply because he’s a former North Carolina Tar Heel. But despite my disdain for the baby-blue colored squad on Tobacco Road, there’s one guy who raises my ire more than Hansbrough ever could: Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen.
You might know him better as “Birdman.”
I don’t like his litany of tattoos or his ridiculous hairdo, or the way he carries himself on the court or off it, for that matter — all of which is probably part of his success.
And not only his success, but the Heat’s as well.
You see, no matter how much Andersen gets on my nerves, no matter how much he makes Dennis Rodman look normal (okay, so maybe that’s a bit of a stretch) and no matter how much grief I give him for his appearance, the fact of the matter is that he played a huge role in Miami repeating as NBA champions.
After signing Andersen in January, the Heat went 38-4 to close out the regular season, with the 6-foot-10, 228-pounder shooting 57.7 percent from the floor while averaging 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game. During the playoffs, he upped his scoring to 6.4 points on 80.7 percent shooting in 15.2 minutes per game, while averaging 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, the latter statistic up 0.1 from his regular-season average.
And although the flamboyant player didn’t play in two of the Heat’s seven games against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, he was solid when he did play. It may have been nothing to write home about for many outsiders looking in, but there’s no doubt his teammates know what he meant to their second straight championship win.
I may not like him, but without “Birdman,” Miami probably wouldn’t be partying it up today.
I just hope I can avoid hearing Shaquille O’Neal repeat the guy’s name 70 billion times next year.