NBA Superlatives: Ryan Anderson

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

As New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson has often told the local media, he’s already experienced the NBA from just about every vantage point in five seasons as a pro. On an ultra-talented Orlando Magic squad in 2009-10, Anderson wasn’t even consistently part of Stan Van Gundy’s rotation (for example, he appeared in just nine of 14 playoff games). The following season, he was primarily a reserve, starting 14 times in his 64 games. By 2011-12, however, he was a full-time starter, filling a first-string role in all 61 appearances. He’s also seen both ends of the spectrum in terms of the standings. As an NBA rookie with New Jersey in 2008-09, the Nets finished 34-48 and missed the playoffs. The following season, Anderson’s debut with Orlando, the Magic went 59-23 and won the Southeast Division title. The University of California product and Sacramento-area native provided a few of his opinions about his career and the league recently to Hornets.com:

Most memorable moment in the NBA: “Being in the three-point contest in Orlando, in front of my home crowd. That was surreal to be a part of All-Star weekend. I never would’ve dreamed of being in something like that, in front of friends and family. That was really fun.”

Most memorable dunk in the NBA: “Well, I’m not the most athletic guy, so… [smiles] A memorable one for me that was actually really bad happened in Orlando in a game against Detroit. I got a steal, tipped it to Anthony Johnson, who passed it ahead to me. I was sprinting in, jumping off my left leg, but my leg just did not cooperate with me, so I missed the dunk. Everyone in the crowd went crazy and my teammates on the sideline were making fun of me.”

Most embarrassing moment in the NBA: “We had a nationally televised game in Los Angeles and I was in the layup line. As I was going in for a layup, I was looking in the other direction, but one of my teammates was sprinting in very fast. I clipped the side of his leg, which knocked me off my feet. I fell right down on the court. To me, it seemed like the sound echoed around the entire arena. Everyone was looking at me like, ‘This is the clumsiest guy ever.’ That was very embarrassing, because it was my first year with the Magic and I was trying to be cool and be part of the group. It wasn’t just the fall – it was the fact that I ate it in layup line!” [laughs]

Most surprising thing about the NBA as a rookie: “The schedule. When you’re a rookie, you’re used to playing a 30-game season. But in the NBA, it’s an 82-game season, not even counting training camp, preseason or the playoffs. You’re coming into it thinking the NBA’s not going to be that bad. I kept hearing people tell me to watch out for the rookie wall. Sure enough, I hit the wall. I couldn’t remember what city I was in or which hotel I was staying in. That was a big adjustment.”

Toughest players to face at his position: “The crafty guys who can do a lot more than what you might expect. A guy like (Phoenix forward) Luis Scola is so crafty around the rim. He can face up and shoot, but he’s quick getting to the rim and has all of these up-and-under moves where the shot goes in. Guys like him almost embarrass you, because they have such great footwork.”

Best uniforms in the NBA (besides the Hornets’): “I liked Sacramento’s uniforms growing up there, but I like New York’s now. That uniform kind of represents their city and the mecca of basketball.”

Favorite road arena: “I love playing in the Staples Center, because of how they dim the lights (except above the basketball floor). It gives games there the feel of a boxing match or something like that.”

Favorite road trip, based on the city: “I love going home to Sacramento. I also love L.A. This summer I spent time in Boston, and really had a great time up there.”