Chris Andersen celebrates the Heat's championship in June (Jesse D. Garrabrant/ Getty).
In the thick of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, veteran center Chris "Birdman" Andersen, then a member of the Denver Nuggets and now a key player for the world champion Miami Heat, grabbed headlines for what appeared to be all the wrong reasons. Several hours before Game 6 of the Nuggets' first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, a Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children unit searched his home in relation to an ongoing investigation related to child pornography. Andersen was not arrested or charged with any crimes, but he did not play in either of the last two games of the series (also the Nuggets' last two games of the season.
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A subsequent announcement from one of Andersen's lawyers cast him as a victim of extortion, but a lack of details did little to clarify the bizarre situation. When Birdman returned to the court this season for the Miami Heat, it appeared as if the issue had blown over, or at least not become an overbearing presence in his life.
On Wednesday, Andersen received official confirmation that he would not be charged in relation to the search. In fact, he appears to have been a wronged party. From John Ingold and Benjamin Hochman for The Denver Post:
Former Denver Nuggets star Chris Andersen was the victim of a wide-ranging and complex Internet impersonation scheme when authorities searched his home last year, an attorney for Andersen said Wednesday.
The Douglas County District Attorney's office on Wednesday confirmed that it will not file charges against Andersen in connection with the search.
Mark Bryant, the attorney, said Andersen was being impersonated online by a woman in Canada. The woman, posing as Andersen, sought relationships and gifts but also threatened at least one person, Bryant said. The woman in Canada was also posing online as other people to Andersen, Bryant said. [...]
"It is my understanding that this case involves numerous victims," Bryant said. "... Chris was a victim in this case." [...]
Shelly Lynn Chartier, 29, has been charged with crimes of possession and transmitting of child pornography, personation, extortion and making threats, RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said. Karpish said Chartier lives in Easterville, Manitoba, a town of fewer than 100 residents on the shores of Cedar Lake nearly 300 miles north of Winnipeg. Chartier was charged in January and is scheduled to make a court appearance in October, Karpish said. [...]
I "just wanted to thank everyone that supported me and knew this was a lie from the beginning," Andersen said in a statement provided to The Denver Post earlier this year. "They know how I love people, they know how I love kids and they know where my heart has been in this community."
This is obviously welcome news for Andersen, who has been a popular role player at several stops in his 11-season NBA career. He's also no stranger to controversy and disciplinary issues. In January 2006, Andersen was disqualified from the NBA for violating the league's "drugs of abuse" policy and was not reinstated until March 2008. Since then, he's established himself as a dependable rim protector and athletic finisher at the offensive end. It's quite possible that the Heat would not have won the title this spring without his services.
The issues of this case go well beyond basketball, though, to the point where this news matters just because it will allow Andersen to more comfortably carry out the everyday actions of life. The legal process is far from finished, and it's quite possible that Andersen will have to involve himself in the prosecution of Chartier at some point. Yet we can progress with little doubt as to his role in this ordeal. Hopefully the other victims receive the same peace of mind soon.
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