Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Nuggets hope ‘Birdman’ soars into playoffs

DENVER – So many things have gone right for the Denver Nuggets this season.

There’s the trade that brought Chauncey Billups back to Denver, the return to health of big men Nene and Kenyon Martin. The maturation of Carmelo Anthony, the development of J.R. Smith.

But it’s the acquisition of Chris “Birdman” Andersen and his spectacular play after missing almost two seasons because of a drug suspension that has the Nuggets doing so well, coach George Karl says

The Nuggets are the second seed in the West and they have a first-round date with Andersen’s former team, the New Orleans Hornets, beginning Sunday at the Pepsi Center.

It’s the first time Denver has started a playoff series at home since 1988.

Andersen is one part of the Nuggets’ frontcourt trio of Comeback Kids, along with Nene, who returned from testicular cancer, and Kenyon Martin, who’s overcome microfracture surgery to both knees.

“You have a cancer survivor that has been close to an All-Star year. You have a guy that has been maligned here because of his contract and now finally gives the foundation to a team that everybody expected of him,” Karl said. “And then you have Chris Anderson, who, when I put in the game, there is a spirit to him walking up to the scorer’s table. That doesn’t happen in pro ball.”

Andersen’s ban lasted almost two years after he tested positive for an undisclosed “drug of abuse.” He said he spent his time away from the game cleaning up his life and plotting his return.

“I kept a positive mind through it all. I stayed optimistic. I knew I wanted to come back and to be in the position I’m in,” Andersen said. “Being on a team in second place in the Western Conference is just one of the rewards that I got through the hard work. The hard work paid off.”

Karl was worried last summer when the Nuggets had to ditch defensive star Marcus Camby to save $20 million, half of it in salary and the other half in luxury tax.

But Andersen, whose one-year deal is worth $998,398, has replaced Camby’s shot-blocking and defensive disruption while adding a healthy dollop of exuberance that has made him a fan favorite.

One enthusiast even started a Web site called bringbackthebirdman.com, encouraging the Nuggets to re-sign Andersen, an unrestricted free agent this summer, to a multiyear deal.

“It’s better than firegeorgekarl.com, I know that,” Karl quipped.

Magic duo will play

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Magic starting forwards Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu say their injuries won’t sideline them for the NBA playoffs.

Both participated in full-contact drills on Friday.

Lewis missed the last three games with right knee tendinitis. The All-Star forward says he’s feeling fine and will play normal minutes in the first-round playoff series Sunday against Philadelphia.

Turkoglu says he will be able to play through minor pain in his sprained left ankle, which caused him to miss the last two games.

Oden may miss game

PORTLAND, Ore. – Trail Blazers center Greg Oden missed practice Friday, a day before Portland faces the Houston Rockets in their playoff opener.

The 7-foot center is listed as probable and will be a game-time decision.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

Search site | Terms of service