Ryan Anderson is a constant presence on the Pelicans bench these days, always ready to offer a word of advice, encouragement or wisdom to his younger teammates, as he struggles to return from the neck injury he sustained in early January during a collision in Boston with Gerald Wallace.
Anderson’s healing process isn’t going as well as he’d hoped though, despite the fact he’s been spotted firing off a shot or two before or after practice and games.
"My discs aren’t getting much better," Anderson said Monday night as he sat courtside at the Sleep Train Arena with Pelicans broadcasters Joel Meyers and David Wesley. "I still have tingling in my fingers. I’m going to get a second opinion tomorrow."
If Anderson’s discs don’t heal enough on their own, Anderson will be forced to undergo surgery. It will be a procedure similar to the one that quarterback Peyton Manning used to breathe new life into his career.
Anderson might have be sidelined for the game, but that didn’t prohibit the sharp-shooter from taking a walk down memory lane.
This is where it all started for Anderson. He was born in Sacramento and starred at Oak Ridge High School where he helped the Trojans win a state championship in 2005 inside what was then called Arco Arena, before itâs current life as the Sleep Train Arena.
"So many great things happened inside this arena for me," Anderson said. "It’s always special coming home."
The road to that high school state championship saw Anderson’s Trojans matched up with John Pitman High School in the opening round of the playoffs. Pitman was led by none other than current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In that game, Kaepernick scored 34 points, while Anderson poured in 50 points.
Colin Kaepernick playing high school basketball.
"Make sure you mention how much I scored too," Anderson joked. "Great memories! Boy, I had a baby face back then, didn’t I?"
Anderson has been a vocal Kaepernick fan, especially during last season’s Super Bowl, and an ardent supporter of Sacramento, speaking out against a proposal to move the Kings last season.
Now, despite his own medical struggles, he’s doing as much as he can to continue to be a part of the Pelicans, albeit in a suit instead of a uniform.
Anderson is devoting much of his time to helping rookie Jeff Withey adjust to NBA life on and off the court.
"It’s tough to sit here in street clothes and watch because I have a highly competitive nature," Anderson said. "But at the same time, I’m seeing the game from a different perspective, from a coach’s perspective. I’m learning a lot."
New Orleans fans, and no doubt Anderson, hope he’ll be back in action on the court soon though. Anderson may start to learn more answers to all the questions Tuesday.
Pelicans Ryan Anderson’s high school team. Anderson is No. 40 in the back row.