How ‘Birdman’ became perfect with Heat
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — The Mikan drill is a classic basketball practice taught to players at an early age. Shoot a layup with a right hand on the right side, grab the ball as it drops through the net, move to the left side and shoot a left-handed layup. Back and forth, over and over.
Then do the drill, named after Hall of Fame big man George Mikan, with reverse layups.
And if the you want to look at a major reason for Miami forward Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s success during the playoffs, look no further than the most basic of drills.
“I do it until my shoulders burn,” Andersen said. “(Former Denver Nuggets assistant) Adrian Dantley had me doing that a lot when I was with Denver. It really panned out and really helped me out around the basket and made me more efficient.”
Efficiency is one thing. What Andersen has done in the playoff is off the efficiency scale. Andersen has made 35-for-41 shots (85.4%) in the playoffs and is shooting 100% from the field (13-for-13) against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
He is 32-for-35 inside the restricted area in the postseason and hasn’t missed a shot since Game 5 of the conference semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, a streak of 16 baskets. Every shot he has made against the Indiana Pacers has been at the rim.
And Andersen’s Birdman-esque explanation for his stellar shooting: “If you can’t make a shot a foot away from the basket, I shouldn’t be playing this sport. … I just work on it. I can’t explain it. It’s an easy shot. I throw it up and it goes in,” he said.
With the colorful tattoos and sculpted mohawk, “Birdman” is a wild juxtaposition of a modern look and an old-school game and just the right bench player for Miami. The Heat don’t call plays for Anderson. He is the beneficiary of passes from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and others, as well as his hustle.
“I just do what I do,” Andersen said. “I don’t really think about how many shots I made in a row or how good … [For more on How Chris 'Birdman' Andersen became perfect with Heat, click here.]