Can We Get Andersen Some Sort of Award?

Chris Andersen has been key to the Nuggets' strong play this season, mixing recklessness, determination, athleticism, and toughness in a way that practically epitomizes this team. He also is, as we all know, a former drug abuser who spent two years out of the league for failing a test with something heavy in his system. That he's ended up a better player than he ever was only makes his story more inspiring; it practically screams "comeback," and makes you wonder why the NBA has "Most Improved" but no award for those guys who battle their way back to prominence. ↵
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↵That's an easy one, one rooted in history and immediately relevant to Andersen's story. From Hoops Hype: ↵
↵⇥There’s just one problem. The NBA doesn’t have such an award. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥It once did. Interestingly, it was done away with before the 1986-87 season and replaced with the Most Improved Player Award because too many players coming back from drug problems were being handed trophies. Of the six who won the award during its 1981-86 run, Bernard King (1981), Micheal Ray Richardson (1985) and Marques Johnson(1986) had battled substance abuse. ↵
↵Honestly, this wouldn't be that hard to correct. Just rule out players with failed test suspensions -- say, in the last two seasons -- so it became clear that dudes weren't coming back from issues with drugs. While we're on the subject, I'd also preempt superstars who had an off-year from a non-career threatening injury. That's a little more subjective, but just as Most Improved shouldn't go to superstars coming into their own, so Comeback Player is supposed to come as a surprise. ↵
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↵Which, actually, brings us back to Andersen. All the players listed above were extremely good. Andersen was a relative unknown; the suspension probably got him more coverage than anything but his failed appearance in the 2005 Dunk Contest. So while the comeback may be from drugs, there's also an element of improvement involved. Not saying that Andersen has a shot at MIP, but this is a guy who was barely in the league even before he fell out of it due to his own bad judgment. This is a long way of saying that Chris Andersen probably deserves his own award, for overcoming his limitations and his demons to play an important role on a playoff team. That's probably too deep to sum up in a trophy catchphrase. ↵
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↵One thing: Dude needs to drop that nickname if he plans to once and for all paint himself as a reborn, clean and free. Anyone who has the slightest familiarity with hip-hop knows what I mean.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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