I’m watching the Warriors vs. Their Old Mascot on ESPN and it hit me that both of these teams represent the two biggest playoff upsets in Western Conference Playoff history: The Warriors over the Mavs and the franchise formerly known as Seattle lost a 5 game series to the #8 seeded Nuggets. Immediately it took me back to that 1994 series. I was a huge fan of that Denver squad, led by Dikembe Mutombo, LaPhonso Ellis, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. My favorite under the radar player was speedster Robert Pack, the ex-USC player and back up point guard. I went to youtube to find a video recap, and found a pretty good one, but I got bored. I didn’t need a 5 minute recap…. there’s only about 5 seconds I need to see. The only part I need to see is when Mutombo grabs that last rebound and lets time expire, at which point he falls to ground clutching the ball with both hands, and smiling like the happiest grandpa on the planet. And this is when he was just 28, allegedly. He almost looks out of this world, and perhaps he is, given his debated age, but I’ve still seen few human moments in my life that compare to him since this display. The Nuggets went on to take the Jazz to seven games in the second round.
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Typically I like to pick someone a little more random and more forgotten, but today we’re putting the spotlight on Kenny Anderson. He was one of the most celebrated high school players ever in New York, but, since I grew up in California, my first exposure to Anderson was his college career at Georgia Tech. I was a huge Yellow Jackets fan as a kid, and while I can’t pinpoint exactly when or why I became one, I’m getting more convinced as the years go on it was Kenny Anderson’s arrival that got me going. He was the first in a line of point guards I rooted for, followed by Travis Best and Stephon Marbury. Of course, this is after he left GaTech after his sophomore season to enter the NBA Draft. He was selected by the New Jersey Nets with the 2nd overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, after Larry Johnson and before Billy Owens and Dikembe Mutombo. Anderson had a lackluster rookie campaign, averaging just 7 pts and 3 ast per game. He rounded into form the next season, though, averaging more than 16 pts and 8 ast for each of the next four seasons, peaking with an all-star nod in 1994. I’m pretty sure I traded all my Shaquille O’Neal rookie cards to my friend for all of his Kenny Andersons. Pretty sound investment strategy now that I look back at it. Though he spent the next 10 seasons bouncing from New Jersey to Charlotte to Portland to Boston to Seattle to New Orleans to Indiana to Atlanta and even to the Clippers for a four game stint, he still averaged double figures for all but one season, his last, where he finished the season averaging 9.8 ppg.
There’s little doubt Kenny Anderson was a great player on the court, but he might have been an even better one OFF the court. I remember him being married to Tami from the Real World Los Angeles. You remember her… the one who, with the help of the other two resident crazy bitches, got up and coming comedian and harmless guy, David Edwards, kicked off for rape. Now, the way I remember it, he just pulled the blanket off of her while she was laughing about it, but I was young. They must’ve edited out the part where he actually violated her. Or did they? Anyway, while David went on to small roles in Half Baked, House Party 3, and Belly, Tami made a successful career playing Kenny Anderson. She divorced him due to his infidelity, which really shouldn’t be grounds for divorce when you marry a professional athlete. Nonetheless, she challenged the pre-nup, won, and walked away with half his money. She even celebrated her victory with a license plate that reads HISCASH. Perhaps he deserved it though, as it appears he’s got about 7 kids by 5 different mothers, including one with Spinderella of Salt-n-Pepa fame. These days, Kenny is keeping busy by coaching such storied basketball franchises as the Atlanta Krunk of the CBA and The Hombres of Slamball.