Soaring: 'Birdman' giving Heat a huge boost

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 18, 2013 at 2:31 am •  Published: April 18, 2013
Advertisement
;

MIAMI (AP) — It takes four losses for a team to be eliminated from the NBA postseason, as anyone who follows the league surely knows.

So here's another statistic among the many that would support the reigning champion Miami Heat carrying the role of overwhelming favorite into these playoffs: Chris Andersen hasn't been part of four losses this season.

Total, that is.

Andersen appeared in 42 games with the Heat during this regular season. They went 39-3 in those games. And sure, Andersen averaged only 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in those contests, so clearly it wasn't his statistics that provided the difference between winning and losing most nights.

What Miami sought when it signed Andersen was the intangibles, things like toughness and veteran savvy. On those counts, he's constantly delivered. And he'll likely continue to have a big role off the bench for the Heat in the playoffs, which open for them on Sunday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.

"He's a defender, he brings toughness, defends the rim, he rebounds and offensively he gives us an element of keeping teams honest when they put two on the ball," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He fits with us and we're certainly fortunately to have gotten him."

Andersen sports a Mohawk haircut and who-knows-how-many multicolored tattoos, has been known to flap his arms as if they were wings — a nod to his "Birdman" nickname — and can be more than a little intimidating. At first glance, the idea of him fitting into a Heat organization that prides itself on doing everything in a first-class manner might have seemed absurd.

But the Heat looked at the big picture, how another energy-and-effort guy with size and strength would clearly help their chances of winning a second straight title. With that in mind, they offered him a deal, Andersen accepted, and he's made the Heat look like geniuses for the move ever since.

"He's perfect. Perfect," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "When you see his production, you get it. When you look at everything that Birdman is, what people say he is and even what he is to a certain extent, it doesn't match. But when you look at how he plays and the production on the court and what we need, it's a perfect fit."

Andersen got a long ovation on his first night in Miami, and the cheering hasn't stopped since. At one recent game, a kid with his hair gelled into a Mohawk and who sported the same colorful tattoos (albeit faux, of the magic-marker variety) on his neck and arms earned huge cheers from fans and players alike when he was shown on the in-arena scoreboards.

Continue reading this story on the...