Posted: Monday February 6, 2006 2:39PM; Updated: Monday February 6, 2006 5:55PM
Despite averaging fewer than 17 minutes a game over his career, the Hornets' Chris Andersen was due to collect $14 million over the next four years -- until his dismissal.
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Marty Burns will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
It has now been 10 days since Hornets backup forward/center Chris "The Birdman" Andersen became the first player since Stanley Roberts in 1999 to be kicked out of the NBA for violating the league's drug policy.
And we still haven't heard from him.
No ESPN Sunday Conversation. No front-page sob story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Not even a statement from his agent.
Andersen, who stands to lose more than $10 million over the next three years, is staying mum and completely out of the spotlight. Maybe he's guilty as charged and has enough respect for himself and the truth to let it go. Or maybe he's innocent but has been told to keep quiet.
Either way, the players association is going to battle it out for him. It has filed a grievance with the NBA, and an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Friday in New York City before Calvin Sharpe, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The NBA's drug policy states clearly that a player can be kicked out for a single positive test for amphetamines and its analogs, which include cocaine, LSD, heroin, crystal meth, PCP, morphine, opiates Ecstasy, the popular dance club drug. Roberts, in fact, claimed it was Ecstasy that got him kicked out back in '99. The drug testing procedures have controls in place to make sure samples are valid. When players have tried to allege tainted samples in the past, they have struck out.
If Andersen's suspension is upheld, he will have to wait two years before he can apply for reinstatement. He might be able to play overseas in the interim, but even that's not 100 percent certain right now. FIBA initially denied Roberts' request to sign with a team from Turkey after his ban in '99, claiming the NBA drug test results applied to their policy as well.
Andersen's high-energy style, trademark headband and all-around goofiness made him popular with Hornets players and fans. When the 6-foot-10 free-spirit dunked he would make a sign with his hands that resembled a bird flapping its wings. He also became famous at last year's Slam Dunk contest when he unsuccessfully tried the same dunk about eight times as the capacity crowd at Denver's Pepsi Center howled in laughter.