If you were in a luxury hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday night and heard someone yelling in frustration, you might have been in a room near suspended Miami Heat center Chris Andersen.
A regretful Andersen was relegated to watching the Heat lose to the Indiana Pacers 91-77 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals from a television in his hotel room alone. "Birdman" was suspended for Game 6 after getting into a skirmish with Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5. Andersen will be eligible to play in the deciding Game 7 in Miami on Monday.
"It was tough," Andersen told Yahoo! Sports. "My palms were sweating. My adrenaline was pumping. I was yelling at the TV just trying to cheer my guys on. I tried to support them from my room. It's tough, but that's the way it went."
Andersen has been a key reserve for the Heat in the East finals, averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks off the bench. The 6-foot-10, 228-pound forward has also made 18 consecutive field goals in the postseason. Without Andersen, the Heat were out-rebounded 53-33 in Game 6.
Andersen told reporters after Miami's morning shoot-around on Saturday that he "can't regret anything" about his suspension. But after the Game 6 loss, he told Yahoo! Sports it was a "lesson learned," and he has to "be on the floor, be smarter, be more professional."
"It was real tough to watch, bro. A lesson learned," Andersen said. "I got to be able to control my composure no matter how rough the game gets. I just got to continue to play the way I play. Just play smart. Play the right way.
"Of course I could have made a difference in the rebounding. But we're still the Miami Heat. It's a tough series. Indiana is tough. But you know what, we got to go back home and the good thing is we have our home-court advantage. We'll go back to Miami and take care of business on Monday."
Andersen's spirits were lifted by positive words from Heat president Pat Riley on the team plane after the game. Also keeping Andersen optimistic is the fact that he's overcome tougher obstacles in the past.
Andersen went undrafted out of Blinn Junior College (Texas) in 1999 and played professionally in China and in the American minors for the International Basketball Association and the NBA Development League before signing with the Denver Nuggets in 2001. He received a two-year ban from the NBA in 2006 for violating the league's drug policy. Last season while with the Nuggets, Andersen's home was the target of an investigation of a suspected Internet criminal case by the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, but he was not charged with any crimes and his lawyer said he was the victim of an extortion attempt.
"I'm just going to play the way I play," Andersen said about Game 7. "If I try to put any more pressure on myself about being suspended, us losing and [Monday] being a big game, that's too much to handle. I'm being positive and Pat Riley talked to me and is keeping my spirits up as well. I've been through tougher situations than this. It's just a matter of playing the way I play.
"I'm trying to win the championship. I'm not just trying to get to the Finals. Winning a championship would mean that all that pain and agony and blood and sweat, broken bones. … I've spent my whole career trying to chase down a championship. That would mean it didn't go to waste. It would be a dream come true."
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