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Healthy Andersen dives into offseason workouts

Birdman looks to build on solid finish to 2010-11 season


From his shot-blocking ability to his rapport with his Birdman followers to his charitable contributions, Chris Andersen has many virtues.

Patience is not among them.

“I’m the most impatient person there is,” Andersen said between sets of a recent workout at Forza Fitness and Performance Club. “If I’m stuck in traffic, I’m busting side roads even if it takes me longer to go around the traffic.”

The Nuggets forward expects no different when he goes hunting for wild hogs in Texas later this summer.

“I’ll shoot a tree just to get some action,” he said.

Given Andersen’s impatient nature, it was no surprise to see him dive into his offseason conditioning program with Nuggets strength-and-conditioning coach Steve Hess and his assistant Matt Friia.

Such labor of love wasn’t possible a year ago.

After gutting his way through the first round of the 2010 Western Conference playoffs, Andersen had surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee. For his own protection, the athletic training staff put him on a strict rehabilitation schedule that tested Birdman’s patience yet again.

Hess and Friia repeatedly had to pull back the reins when Andersen pushed the line of overextending himself.

There are no such restrictions this summer as Andersen tries to return to his 2008-09 form when he averaged a career-high 6.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and finished second in the NBA with 175 blocked shots.

“This summer I’m going to feel like the old Bird,” he said. “I didn’t get to train last summer and trying to catch up during the season is tough. Every time I got healthy, I got hurt. I didn’t find a rhythm.”

Andersen missed the first 13 games of the season recovering from knee surgery, but played in just five games before suffering a broken bone in his lower back after a hard fall against the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 3.

He missed 19 of the next 30 games but seemed to find a rhythm after the All-Star break, averaging 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.75 blocks in 20 games. He also shot 73.9 (51-for-69) percent from the field during that span.

“People realize and have seen that Bird’s important to us,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “I thought at the end of the year, he was in a much better place, much more confident. That hustle guy and energy guy who helps you win games is a very important part of a championship team.”

Andersen certainly wants to contribute in any way he can, hence the late-May workouts with Hess and Friia. In an efficient one-hour session, he worked his legs, arms and core with enthusiasm.

“It’s great just knowing I can work out,” he said. “I’m disciplined enough to say I can get back in the gym and get back to where I was (in 2008-09), blocking shots and dunking on people.”

Andersen has never let his health or play on the court affect his commitment to giving back to the community.

He and teammate Nene visited with military personnel and their families during the 2011 Armed Forces Community Run at Peterson Air Force Base on May 14. Andersen also helped raise $63,000 in scholarship money for Colorado high school seniors when he spoke at a banquet for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials in March.

There will be more community appearances ahead, but for now, Andersen is focused on getting himself in the best shape possible as he approaches his 33rd birthday on July 7.

Asked how Andersen looks as the offseason workouts begin in earnest, Hess said: “Do you want the honest answer or the newspaper version?”

The honest answer.

“He looks good,” Hess said. “He looks good as (expletive).”

Unfortunately for Nuggets fans, they will have to wait a few more months to see Andersen back on the court.

They’ll have to exercise some patience.


Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...