The list of pure hustle players gets smaller and smaller in the NBA. Guys like Bo Outlaw, Darvin Ham, and Jerome Williams, the type of players who would do things that wouldn't show up in the box score, used to be more than benchwarmers. The list got even smaller last Friday when Hornets PF Chris "Birdman" Anderson violated the League's drug policy and was suspended for two years.The first thing that comes to mind is the severity of the punishment. Did Anderson really do something that deserved twice the punishment that Artest and Sprewell got? Perhaps.
It had to happen to someone though: this is the Ron Artest, Rafael Palmeiro don't-do-what-he-did situation for the League's drug policy. This will definitely dissuade players from committing similar violations.The NBA's drug policy has been highly criticized for years on citations that it has been nowhere near as harsh as it should be. Anyone who watched SportsCenter in the year 2003 knows that drug problems have ailed basketball teams over the years, including the Portland Trailblazers. Bonzi Wells would have been kicked out of the NBA years ago if the punishment were as it is now.
Hopefully the League won't be star struck with these penalties because stars like Carmelo Anthony have had similar pasts as Chris Anderson and shouldn't be given a free pass.As for Chris Anderson, his career is virtually over. The NBA isn't like MLB where guys like Julio Franco and Solomon Torres can come back 8 years after retirement.
There is a shelf life for NBA free agents. Why else would Jay Williams, who is a far better player than Chris Anderson, not be able to reenter the League? Two years is a long time. It's extremely dubious that a former player will be able to be in as good a shape two years later as he is now.If Anderson does happen to somehow work his way into free-agent consideration it will take his best efforts.
He'll have to reshape himself the way that Ron Artest was supposed to and won't get as easy a ride as Artest did. Chris will have to do extra-curricular events at various places to try to show that he has indeed learned his lesson and should go into some kind of rehab. Contrition goes a long way and is his best shot at returning to the League.
Considering that this was his 4th offense we can't say Anderson didn't bring this upon himself. Before this incident Chris Anderson's most memorable moment was missing a bazillion attempts in last year's Slam Dunk Contest. It now makes some sense, since a 6'10 man would have to be on something to not be able to dunk..Check out the latest Live NBA Betting Odds and Information.
By: David Pincus