That’s what he calls himself now. “There’s three Z’s. You got it?” He’s adamant about that.
The basketball player formerly known as Chris Andersen, Birdman, Bird and Birdzilla — along with several other monikers not fit for print — was traded by the Miami Heat to the Memphis Grizzlies in a cost-cutting move two weeks ago.
While he was an important contributor to a title-winning Heat team, the people of Miami will likely remember him more for the fun and energy he brought to the franchise both on and off the court. The hair, tattoos, nicknames, high-flying dunks and emphatic blocks made this man one of the most endearing players the team has ever had.
And that love is reciprocated.
“Miami’s always gonna be in my heart, man,” Andersen said by phone this week. “The whole situation of me coming into Miami during one of the worst times of my life and the way they embraced me down there and welcomed me with open arms, they just made me feel wanted and made me feel like I was a part of their culture and their city. Winning a championship down there and being a part of that, it’s priceless. I will never forget that.
“All I can say is thank you. Thank you for all the good times and all the support. The greatest thank you I could give to them was helping their team win a championship. It was a great time. I wish it would’ve been longer, but it is what it is. I’ll always be down in Miami.”
Birdman’s extensive interview will be released in print this weekend, but you can get a sneak peak at the full story now.