Slamadamonth, SLAM #25: Derek Anderson

by July 11, 2013

Originally published in SLAM 25

In his three seasons at Colgate, Adonal Foyle blocked 492 shots. More than David Robinson, more than Zo, more than anyone in Division I. Ever. Still, so-called experts across the country questioned Foyle’s accomplishments, and wondered if, just because he could house Bucknell and Lehigh, he could do the same against the Bulls and Lakers. The Golden State Warriors didn’t listen. They decided to trust their instincts, drafting the 6-10 center with the eighth overall pick and stationing him in the middle.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a senior phenom named Derek Anderson was sidelined with a torn ACL, watching his wildcats lose their NCAA title to Arizona. Despite Anderson’s borderline-illegal athletic ability before the injury, the same so-called experts questioned whether he would ever be the same again. The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t listen. They decided to trust their instincts, drafting the 6-5 swingman with the 13th overall pick and stationing him in the backcourt with fellow rookie Brevin Knight.

December 3. The revitalized Cavs, at 10-5, are visiting a Warrior team plagued by four straight losses—and, more recently, a player with a taste for assault. Not even with Latrell Sprewell at home, Foyle only gets one minute. He doesn’t make the most of it.

The Warriors went on to lose, 94-67—this is why. Anderson, running the point, takes an inbounds pass from Henry James and immediately blows by Muggsy Bogues. Crossing the half-court line, he sees a Warrior defense as confused as their front office. A lane to the basket is wde open, so Anderson, who wears number 23 for good reason, decides to show off.

A couple more dibbles and he’s in the paint, launching, cupping the ball in his right hand, showing the soles of his JORDAN Brand shoes to the world. But wait—rising to meet him is Foyle, the all-time NCAA blocked-shots leader, the Warriors’ rock in the middle…

Count it. And the foul. Oh well, looks like the experts were right. Once.

Russ Bengtson