By: Calder Hynes, Hornets.com
While the Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers marks David Andersens first trip to the NBA playoffs, the series is far from his first experience in the postseason as a professional basketball player. Reason being, Andersen, selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft, had an accomplished and decorated decade-long career in Europe before coming to the NBA as a member of the Houston Rockets last season.
Its a great feeling, says the 6-foot-11 big man from Australia on the atmosphere that comes from being part of a postseason-bound squad. Everyone is really excited, everyone is really enthusiastic. Guys are more focused, guys are more intense, guys are wanting to get in there, play hard, and play the game. Its the feeling of everyone being on the same page and working toward a common goal.
Playing games beyond the regular season schedule is a return to normalcy for Andersen, acquired by New Orleans from the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 20. Last season, when his Rockets squad failed to qualify for the playoffs, it was the first year of his career since 2000 that he had not participated in any sort of postseason play.
Before coming to the United States, Andersen was an integral part of three Euroleague (widely considered to be the premier competitive basketball league outside of the NBA) championship teams and won seven domestic championships in his time playing in Italy, Spain and Russia. Even though he acknowledges some of his teammates may not know of his exploits abroad (which include a 2004 Italian League Finals MVP), the 30-year-old veteran feels his savvy can help his less experienced teammates with adapting to the higher intensity play that accompanies playoff basketball.
I try to bring an air of calm, try not to let guys get too nervous, he said. One of the things Ive see many times over the years being in different finals is that sometimes guys get nerves and then theyre not going to play their game. Ill try to lend guys a hand, keep them calm and keep them confident, because thats one of the key things in big games. Its hard to hit big shots if youre excited or nervous.
Asked what he believes the key is to the Hornets having success in 2011, the level-headed Andersen offers: Its a matter of trying to do what you normally do. I think you should stick to what youre good at and be confident in what youre doing and enjoy it. Theres only 16 teams left playing, its a great opportunity and a great time to be around.
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