Chris Anderson: The One Who Got Away

Jay KingCorrespondent IMay 23, 2009

DENVER - MAY 23:  Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets hangs on the rim after he dunks the ball in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 23, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The "Birdman" got his nickname by flying around, and he certainly does just that while playing basketball. Every time Chris Anderson walks onto a basketball court, he makes his presence felt. He is a great shot blocker and an active rebounder, especially on the offensive end.

On top of that, Anderson brings energy, passion, and attitude to a Nuggets team that desperately needed it. The additions of Anderson and Chauncey Billups have transformed the Nuggets from a notoriously soft team to a tough, hard-nosed championship contender.

Now let me ask you a question, and there is no need to answer it because I know that everyone is going to have the same answer. Who would you rather have playing for the Celtics, Patrick O'Bryant or Chris Anderson?

In case some of you have forgotten all about O'Bryant, I will give you a little refresher. At the beginning of the season, before he was traded away for nothing more than a roster spot, he gave us a couple amazing months of uninspired practices. When he did get into games, you guessed it, he gave us more uninspired play.

My favorite O'Bryant moment was when he shot a turnaround fade away from the post, and Tommy Heinsohn gushed something like, "Don't let that shot fool you. This kid can really shoot it."

Sure enough, the next game he got in during garbage time again, and, this time, his airball was just a regular jumper, not a fade away. Heinsohn, like only Heinsohn can, said the very same thing he'd said in the game before, "Don't let that shot fool you. This kid can really shoot it."

Needless to say, Patrick O'Bryant brought more or less nothing to the Celtics. He was tall, sure, and talented, yeah, but man was he soft.

On a team that changed Stephon Marbury (STEPHON FREAKING MARBURY) into the ultimate team player and character guy, O'Bryant never allowed the dedicated work ethics and professionalism of the "Big Three" to rub off on him.

Watching Chris Anderson play during these playoffs, I cannot help but wonder whether a frontcourt of Perk, Big Baby, Anderson and Scal would have been enough to advance past the Magic.

In a series that was decided by a couple plays, I think Anderson would have been enough to swing it in our favor and, with him, I truly believe the Celtics would be still be playing today.

Now, I don't know how close we were to signing Anderson, and I certainly do not know how serious he was about coming to Boston, but I do know that Danny Ainge made a big mistake by not putting the full-court press on the Birdman. Ainge was probably skeptical of the Birdman's past, including his two year drug suspension.

Despite the drug suspension, Anderson was, and is, exactly the player the Celtics need, someone willing to do the dirty work, someone ready to bang inside and help Perk man the paint. Ainge misjudged a lot this offseason, but I think not signing Anderson was his worst decision. I guess sometimes Patrick O'Bryant just doesn't cut it.

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