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Anderson Varejao Is The Star Behind the All Stars

Eduardo AfiniContributor IIIApril 26, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 29:  Rasheed Wallace #36 of the Detroit Pistons defends the shot ofAnderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2007 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

If you are not a Cavaliers fan you probably hate him, but if you follow and cheer for the true contender for this year’s NBA title, it is most likely that you love this 6’11’’, 260 lbs basketball player from Brazil. 

Anderson Varejao is not a super star like his teammate LeBron James, seldom appears on game highlights, and is not a big scorer from the field. Yet, if you ask any coach to make a list of five players they would like to work with, Varejao’s name is very likely to appear in many of them. And there is a simple reason for that: Anderson is a true team player.

He does not mind doing the dirty work on the court so his team can look good. His coaches and teammates appreciate that, and will agree that a player with such characteristics is of extreme importance for the overall success of any sport franchise.

Being a team player does not mean being out of the stats board, however. Only Varejao, LeBron James, and Mo Williams appeared in 81 of the 82 Cleveland’s regular season games. He is only behind these same two guys in total number of minutes played, before the playoffs, accounting for 2,306.

He is also the team’s leader on total offensive rebounds (166), and second only to James in defensive and total rebounds (offensive and defensive combined), with 415 and 581 respectively.

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The man with the wild hair is the kind of player who knows how to play the game in a manner that is mostly perceived and appreciated by fellow players, opponents, and coaches, as he is a master in one on one coverage, opening up spaces for teammates, drawing faults, and irritating his rivals.

And as intangibles are indisputably a very important ingredient in the recipe for a basketball team’s success, it is necessary to mention Varejao’s loyalty to his teammates.

He is always the first one to approach a colleague who is down on the floor and give him his hands to lift him up. He is also the first one to approach an opponent that uses unnecessary roughness against his teammates, in a “Hey, don’t mess with my boys” manner.

For all these reasons, Anderson Varejao is a respected and dear character in the Cleveland community, being the protagonist of the “Wig night,” an event in which the staff hands out wigs so the crowd can adopt a “Varejao look” at that particular home game.

LeBron James will probably win the MVP trophy and the Cleveland Cavaliers have a big chance to become the 2009 NBA champions. Varejao’s contribution to all of this will probably be underrated by the press and by the public in general, but it will not be so by his teammates and by his fans. That is understandable. Anderson knows it and doesn’t mind.

At the end of the day, for the big fellow, it is all about playing basketball at a high level, helping his team win games, and making a pretty decent living out of it.

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