MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Everyone knows LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, and most of the other Heat stars. But there’s a fan favorite who debuted with the team in late January who could be playing the biggest role of all for Miami, center Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

The 6’11” center has given the Heat a big boost since he was essentially paid by the Denver Nuggets to leave in January. At the time Andersen was brought in, Miami was struggling with rebounding problems.

Once Andersen was signed the Heat have gone 40-4 in the regular season and are now 1-0 in the postseason with Andersen in the lineup. His tattooed body of work and his personality has also made him one of the top fan favorites on the Heat’s roster.

When Andersen finally exited Game 1 on Sunday night, he left to a standing ovation after scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Andersen got the AmericanAirlines Arena crowd rocking at one point in the game when he threw down a massive dunk to push Miami further ahead.

“Energy,” LeBron James said of Andersen in a post-game interview, according to “I think Bird is one of those guys that has that same type of motor that can’t be matched. He brings us a lot of energy and effort plays, he flies above the rim and we’re so happy to have him.”

But it’s going to be more than just energy that will help the Heat move towards the NBA Finals. The Heat will have to face a cavalcade of big men including Larry Sanders, Brook Lopez or Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler or Roy Hibbert, and Tim Duncan or Serge Ibaka on the way to a title defense.

Having Andersen down low will only help Miami’s stifling defense as the Heat look to make it back-to-back championships in 2013.


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