Hornets move on without Andersen after drug offense

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The New Orleans Hornets' emotions upon
learning of Chris Andersen's dismissal from the NBA for violating
the league's drug policy ranged from anger to dismay to compassion.

The Hornets were in Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Saturday
night, without the reserve forward known to teammates as
"Birdman," whose dismissal was announced by the league Friday.
"You're a little shocked. You're a little disappointed. I even
got angry at first," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "But then
you have to start thinking about the person. Bird obviously needs
some help in dealing with this situation, so then you start having
compassion for him as a person. You stop thinking about the
basketball part of it."
The 27-year-old Andersen averaged 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in
32 games this season, his fifth in the NBA. He played three seasons
for the Denver Nuggets before joining the Hornets.
According to the league's collective bargaining agreement, a
player only can be disqualified for a fourth positive test for
performance-enhancing drugs, or a first positive test for "drugs
of abuse." Andersen has never been suspended for
performance-enhancing drugs.
The drugs on the "abuse" list are amphetamine and its analogs,
which include methamphetamine; cocaine; LSD; opiates, including
heroin, codeine and morphine; and PCP.
Andersen must wait two years before he can apply for
reinstatement, the league said.
Neither the NBA nor the players association is allowed to
comment on specifics of a player's drug test. Union representatives
already have said they plan to file a grievance.
Teammates said that besides Andersen's shot-blocking ability,
rebounding and high-flying dunks that earned him his nickname, they
also will miss his spirit.
"He's a fun-loving guy and just a great teammate," veteran
P.J. Brown said. "He was one of those guys if things aren't going
well, he can liven up a practice faster than anybody I've ever
seen. He is just a joy to be around. To see a friend in trouble and
going through a tough situation, it really hurts."
Guard Chris Paul added: "He was a huge, vital part of this
team. Every day at practice he was smiling and always playing hard.
We really fed off of his energy, game in and game out."
Andersen is the first player kicked out of the NBA because of
drugs since Stanley Roberts in 1999.
"He still has a love for the game," Scott said. "He just took
a slight detour, and it cost him. Everybody makes mistakes, and
he'll hopefully learn from this and be able to get back."