Thanksgiving (ideally) embodies self-reflection on what we’re thankful for, family coming together, and food. On November 22, 2001 Chris Andersen became the first player called up from the NBDL to the NBA. What does that have to do with Thanksgiving? Not much, but it does play into being thankful. Many players around the league like Johnathan Simmons (Orlando Magic) should be thankful for Chris Andersen’s hard work and determination because he was the first to show that transitioning from the Developmental League to the NBA was truly possible.
Chris is better known as ‘The Birdman’, a title he earned while playing with the Denver Nuggets. When he was called up in 2001 Birdman was the first of his kind; the NBDL (now G-league) was a new experiment at that time so how cooperation between the ‘minor’ and ‘major’ leagues of professional basketball would work. Chris built his brand off of energy, rebounding and dunks… some nice, nice dunks. Never a star but never a scrub either – Birdman was just captivating, plain & simple. Being a career journeyman meant Birdman hooped all over the country, but he’s best known for his days with the Denver Nuggets (where he competed in the Slam Dunk Contest) and with the Miami Heat (where he won his championship with LeBron & The Heatles). The man has gone through many changes over the years from haircuts to tattoos. In celebration of his drive and determination take a look at the Birdman throughout his 16-year career (not counting playing in China or NBDL) because it’s so much fun seeing his visual evolution.
Happy Thanksgiving too, folks. I (Robbie) am personally thankful for SneakerHistory’s founder Nick Engvall for putting me on and allowing me to share my thoughts and perspectives with all of you. Thanks, Nick.
*Yes, all of those pictures are of the same guy.