Christopher Claus “Chris” Andersen (born July 7, 1978) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Nicknamed Birdman, Andersen began his professional career in the Chinese Basketball Association and the American minor leagues.
In July 2001, Andersen joined the Cleveland Cavaliers for the 2001 NBA Summer League. On September 28, 2001, he signed with the Phoenix Suns. However, he was later waived by the Suns on October 7, 2001. On October 31, 2001, he was selected with the first overall pick by the Fayetteville Patriots in the NBA Development League’s inaugural draft. During the 2002 Rocky Mountain Revue, teammates Junior Harrington and Kenny Satterfield nicknamed Andersen “Birdman” for his arm span and penchant for aerial acrobatics.
On September 29, 2003, he re-signed with the Nuggets.
On July 19, 2004, Andersen signed a multi-year deal with the New Orleans Hornets. He appeared in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest during the 2005 All-Star Weekend for the second year in a row, where he unsuccessfully tried the same dunk eight times at the Pepsi Center.
Following the effects of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, the Hornets moved to Oklahoma City for the 2005–06 season and temporarily became the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. In 2005–06, Andersen managed just 32 games (two starts), averaging 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
On January 25, 2006, Andersen was disqualified from the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy by testing positive for a banned substance. Andersen’s suspension fell under the league’s category of “drugs of abuse”, violation of which is possible grounds for expulsion from the NBA under the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Andersen attempted to appeal the ruling through arbitration, but the arbitrator ruled to uphold his dismissal in March 2006. As Andersen waited for his reinstatement effective which could be given in January 2008, he was helped by a lawyer friend in Denver, Mark Bryant, who became his adviser. Andersen spent a month in a rehab clinic in Malibu, and worked out and coached a boys’ basketball team in Denver.
On March 4, 2008, the NBA Players Association granted Andersen’s request to be reinstated as an NBA player. The reinstatement was effective immediately, and the rights to his services belonged to his former team, the New Orleans Hornets, who re-signed him on March 5, 2008 for the rest of the 2007–08 season.
Before he was waived by the Nuggets, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had repeatedly lobbied Pat Riley to acquire Andersen.
On January 20, 2013, Andersen signed a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat. He was signed to a second 10-day contract on January 30, and signed for the remainder of the season on February 8, 2013.
Andersen played in only 42 games during the 2012–13 season but still contributed to the Heat’s success by putting up 4.9 points per game on 57.7 FG% and 4.1 rebounds in 14.9 minutes of play. After he joined the Heat, his team went on a 27-game winning streak, overall going 37-3 in regular-season games in which Andersen played. Andersen also gained legions of fans inspired by his head-to-toe tattoos, Mohawk haircut, and trademark hustle.
Andersen shot 15-15 in Games 1-5 against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, including a 7-for-7 performance in Game 1 that set a franchise playoff record, besting the 6-for-6 mark by Alonzo Mourning in 2007. Andersen was suspended for Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals without pay for committing a flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5.
At age 34, he reached the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. Against the San Antonio Spurs in the deciding Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, Andersen recorded three points, four rebounds, and a block en route to his first NBA championship. With a field goal percentage of 80.7%, Andersen finished the 2013 NBA Playoffs with an NBA Playoffs record for highest field goal percentage.
On July 10, 2013, Andersen re-signed with the Miami Heat. He played 72 games during the 2013–14 regular season, averaging 6.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. On May 26, 2014, before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it was announced that Andersen would miss Game 4 and subsequently Game 5 due to an array of nagging aches and pains which he had been suffering for some time. Andersen returned for Game 6, recording 9 points and 10 rebounds as the Heat went on to advance to their fourth straight NBA Finals and Andersen’s second. The Heat again faced the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, but were defeated in five games.
On July 19, 2014, Andersen again re-signed with the Heat.Over the course of the 2014–15 regular season, Andersen started 20 games, the most in a single season of his career.
On February 16, 2016, the Heat traded Andersen and two second-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade also involving the Charlotte Hornets. Three days later, he made his debut for the Grizzlies in a 109–104 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, recording four points, three rebounds and one block in 11 minutes.
On July 22, 2016, Andersen signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers
Career highlights and awards
NBA champion (2013)