Anderson's long road back to NBA

Alan Anderson. (DAVID LIAM KYLE/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP)

Alan Anderson. (DAVID LIAM KYLE/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

TORONTO - If this were a normal NBA season, the topic of the day would be the new guys, what they can do for the Toronto Raptors and how long before the injured players they replaced are back.

But nothing about this season is normal. So as much as you might want to hear about Ben Uzoh’s defensive reputation or Alan Anderson’s sweet jumper, that’s not what will be offered.

Instead we bring you Anderson’s lifelong journey back to the NBA.

Now Anderson, a shooting guard/small forward may or may not be with the Raptors nine days from now or even five, but his story of perseverance is both inspiring and enlightening.

Having played in just about every league outside the NBA, Anderson is nothing if not adaptable. So even the rushed return to the NBA Monday afternoon barely fazed him.

How rushed?

Well, in a matter of five hours on Monday, Anderson transported himself from the film room of the Canton (Ohio) Charge to the Toronto Raptors locker room,

Anderson, having been told that time was of the essence, resisted the urge to stop for a much needed bathroom break while rushing from the Canton practice facility back to his hotel to grab clothes and then on to Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland where he finally gave in to nature’s call, but only after clearing security.

Then it was on to Toronto where director of player development Jama Mahlalela waited with a fast ride to the Air Canada Centre and more importantly a contract.

Anderson actually signed the contract as soon as he cleared customs because the Raptors were so short-handed they needed him available for that night’s game against the Orlando Magic. That meant having his signature on the dotted line before 6 p.m., when the team would have to file its game roster.

Mahlalela delivered Anderson to the Air Canada Centre about 40 minutes before tipoff. He made his Raptors’ debut midway through the third quarter.

If that sounds a bit much for a person to go through just to play a game of basketball (OK, he’ll make about $50,000 during his 10-day contract), you don’t understand Anderson’s passion.

Undrafted out of Michigan State in 2005, Anderson caught on with the Charlotte Bobcats and stayed with them for the bulk of two seasons, although part of that was spent in the NBA development league.

Unable to find work in the NBA afterwards, he moved to Europe, beginning a five-year odyssey that included stops in Italy, Russia, Croatia, Israel, Spain and China with a brief return to the NBADL in there as well.

Along the way he experienced just about everything. He recalls being taken aback when a lock went whizzing by his head as he warmed up for a game that took his Croatian team into Serbia.

“They (fans) used to take the metal parts off the toilets and throw them because there was a metal detector at the gate and they couldn’t bring anything in,” he said.

If it wasn’t toilet pieces or locks it was lighters flying at his head.

“I can pretty much adjust to anything because I have played in every kind of atmosphere you can imagine,” he said.

Through it all he adapted, first to the language changes, then to the changes in food, even the hard beds: “I’m not used to the beds being rock hard like the floor,” Anderson said of his most recent stop in China. “I used to have to call and order pillows and line them up in the bed the way I lie so I could sleep.”

All of it in order to keep playing basketball.

Asked why he kept going, Anderson said there was always a carrot around the corner. The call from Macabai Tel Aviv to play for a European powerhouse kept him going in 2009. In 2010, back in the D-League, it was the chance to go back and play for Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona that kept him in the game.

Now at the age of 29, that carrot is the Toronto Raptors and Anderson just wants to see how far he can take it.

“Growing up as a kid, the NBA has always been my goal,” he said. “Everybody’s journey is different. You have to play the hand you are dealt.”

RAPTORS NOTES:  The Raptors should have DeMar DeRozan in the lineup after a two-game absence Wednesday when they play host to the Denver Nuggets. But as has been the pattern this year, when one comes back, another goes down. That would be Jerryd Bayless who re-injured his left hip and was scheduled for an MRI late Tuesday afternoon. Gary Forbes, who is averaging over 17 points in his past three games, is also banged up but says it would take more than some bumps and bruises to keep him out of Wednesday’s game against his former team. The addition of Ben Uzoh, a point guard, who is here on a 10-day contract from Rio Grande of the D-League, should help in the absence of Bayless and allow the Raptors to use Forbes at shooting guard rather than out of position at point guard.

TIPOFF

Denver Nuggets (27-23) at Toronto Raptors (16-34)

7 p.m. ET, Air Canada Centre

Marquee matchup

Jose Calderon vs. Ty Lawson

With the injuries Denver is dealing with Lawson has been the Nuggets major scoring threat. He’s averaging 15.4 points and 6.6 assists a night. The fleet of foot Lawson is the type of guard that gives Calderon problems although Calderon has been pretty good in his own right of late helping the Raptors overcome the losses of first Andrea Bargnani and more recently DeMar DeRozan.

Scouting Report

The Nuggets are coming off a huge win in Chicago but have still won just two of its last five. Part of the problem has been injuries. While guard Andre Miller returned to the fold on Monday, forward Danilio Gallinari and guard Rudy Fernandez remain out. The Raptors game will be the fourth of a seven-game, 12-day road trip for the Nuggets.

Did you Know?

With the trade of Brazilian centre Nene, the Nuggets now have 12 players 26 years of age or younger making them the ninth youngest team in the Association ... The Nuggets own a nine-game winning streak in the series with Toronto ... The Nuggets also boast the most productive bench in the NBA.


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