Chris “Birdman” Anderson has taken a vow to be carried out up until the point where he shares his vows with his potential future better half. That vow is one of the most sacred and prestigious ones that a man can make: he will not shave his beard until his wedding day. This wedding is still quite a distance away from now, essentially putting his beard at that point into a thicker, more passionate version of Grizzly Adams in his hairiest of days.
What is the point of the beard, other than to possibly frighten his fiancée and wild grizzly bears in the wilds of the Colorado wilderness? It is a means of intimidation, a way of further portraying Anderson as the crazy rebounder who is more than willing to visit a psychiatric ward in order to chase down a loose rebound. His hair has already harvested much gossip from NBA analysts along with his approach to playing the game.
He is a hustle player who relies entirely on his athleticism and hard work to succeed in the league. He plays a similar role that Dennis Rodman played in his career: the kooky player who entertained fans with more than dives for loose balls and eccentric hairstyles. Anderson has had more than his share of troubles off of the court, drugs being the main culprit in his case. After a lonely and though provoking time away from the game, Anderson would return with the Denver Nuggets who were a team in flux themselves.
His return to the Mile-High city signaled more than a second chance for a lost soul, it symbolized the embracing of a franchise of their true calling. For much of the Denver roster, including Anderson, flair and style are just as imperative and essential as wins and losses. Sure, like every team in the league, the chief goal is to accrue victories in some semblance of a championship run, but Denver does it with such a unique panache that it makes them quite the demonstration. This was even more genuine before Allen Iverson was shipped off to Detroit for the irrevocable Chauncey Billups.
With Iverson it was a scramble to see who could hoist the most jump shots before the final buzzer sounded despite George Karl’s wishes. After Iverson the Nuggets had the same aura that exists after a wildfire: calm and serene with touches of rebirth and growth all around despite the knowledge that something overwhelming has just passed. Billups made them a more complete team, adding the veteran legitimate point guard presence that was lacking when Iverson was at the helm for the Nuggets.
Each unkempt hair on Anderson’s chin represents his uniqueness even on a team of nonconformists. He is a hyper athletic white player who shies away from the fundamentals and embraces the counterculture. Basically, he is not the next Larry Bird or Kevin McHale for those praying for the next great white hope.
He isn’t poised to go on a scoring spree for a 25 or 30-point night without ample help from teammates and opponents alike. He relies almost entirely on put backs or quick cuts to beneath the basket and sharp passing by teammates for his scoring, which at its best is still anemic. He makes his living by playing hard and zealous defense against the opponent’s power forward or center. But even then, he can’t keep up with muscular big men with his relatively frail frame. He uses his athleticism to provide help and swat shots with a relentless appetite, like a heavily tattooed, pale Dwight Howard without all of the intimidating muscle.
He is not a starting caliber player; instead he is the ideal bench player who brings the hustle with him wherever he goes. He brings energy to the floor regardless of the score or quarter, mainly because he can’t be successful without it. It is a different kind of energy than other player’s energy. It is a dangerous energy, like a bolt of lightning striking the ground. His energy is more like an attitude, the brash and abrasive manner that most white people associate with the hip-hop culture. It’s hazardous, ready to erupt at any time and spur some sort of brouhaha that would result in suspensions and likely shift up into the stands.
Anderson is a pure scrapper who is likely more recognized for his hairstyles than his style of play. He snuggles in nicely on the Nuggets who are a team that some describe as “thuggish” with tattoos lacing their bodies and nonchalance towards some perceived correct way of playing the game. None of these players would have been embraced by a pre-Iverson era of basketball, except maybe Chauncey on an astounding team and Carmelo on a hapless franchise, yet they are near basketball idols in Denver.
He is not monumental in any stretch of the imagination, not transcendent or revolutionary, but he is memorable. He is unique to the NBA, like an albino crocodile surviving and thriving amongst his camouflaged brethren. His oddity stature is just a microcosm of everything that Denver is/was. The absurdity of Chris Anderson coming off of the bench to give Kenyon Martin a breather is astronomical. Kenyon is perpetually real, never succumbing to the pressures to conform to analysts’ notions of what he should/could be.
Carmelo Anthony is a monstrous scorer that, when not distracted, can easily average 30 PPG for long stretches in the season. The addition of Billups last year only added to his scoring acumen, an able point who knows how to hit the open man. He is a better shooter than his eternal comparison LeBron, and can rival Kobe when he finds a rhythm. J.R. Smith may be the craziest player who has hardly any reason to be mad. He is as streaky a player as there is in the league, perhaps Ben Gordon can match his unpredictable nature, but certainly not his attitude towards his scoring.
Billups play may have been overhyped after the early season trade from Detroit to Denver. He was immediately surrounded by athletic shooters who knew how to score, and coming from Detroit where the team had grown old and lost a significant amount of the athleticism that they enjoyed in their championship runs. His leadership was a wanted and needed commodity in Denver. Sure, his timely scoring and clutch shooting was a beautiful derivative of his arrival, but Carmelo had already secured his spot as the go-to guy late in a game. Aside from Chauncey, Nene may be the most boring significant player in the Denver stew. Besides his foul troubles, his play is not earth shattering, although he pushed around the Lakers’ big men as if they were made of straw.
The Nuggets are not likely to have a repeat performance of last years almost magical run through the playoffs. They would be lucky to earn the #2 seed in the West again with the rest of the teams revamping in hopes of improving. The Nuggets made no landform shifting moves, but they possibly secured a future point guard in Ty Lawson by trading with the T-Wolves. Hopefully, Chris Anderson will stay true to his word and keep growing his beard only if because it just adds to the aura and insanity that is Chris Anderson.