Denver Nuggets power center Chris "Birdman" Andersen has been "excused indefinitely" from team activities after sheriff's deputies searched his home Thursday for undisclosed Internet crimes against children.
The Denver Post reported authorities searched Andersen's Larkspur home Thursday morning. Andersen, 33, has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
NBA.com says the team announced its decision shortly before the Nuggets faced the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of their playoff series.
The team said Anderson was excused "as he deals with the reported investigation" and declined further comment.
The 10th-year pro hasn't played in the post-season after averaging 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds during the regular season, ESPN reported.
Andersen began his career in Denver in 2001, before bolting to New Orleans three seasons later. He also had a breakout season with the Hornets in 2004-05.
According to ESPN, Douglas County Sheriff's spokesman Ron Hanavan declined to release details, including the nature of any pending charges, citing an ongoing investigation.
He said they're asking that the case, including the search warrant, be sealed.
"For me right now, I think I'm at a stage where I don't know enough information," Nuggets coach George Karl said before Thursday night's game, NBA.com reported. "I think we all were advised probably not to talk about it until we know the information. The only thing I will say is I trust Chris. In my years with him, he's been fantastic. I think he's really grown as a person. We're going to support him and stand by him."
Washington Wizards v/s Denver Nuggets January 25, 2011
"He's been dealt a bad hand by me," Karl added. "For a guy that's played great basketball for me and the Nuggets over the years, (he's) kind of been phased out because of the youth movement, and in the middle of the season is not always fair. I personally think Bird is a very good basketball player, can play for many NBA teams. He could play for us someday, if the situation would open itself up again."
Karl said he had a chance to speak with Andersen after the morning practice.
"He was emotional. I was in a state where I didn't think, I didn't want to spend a lot of time on that," Karl said.
As for how the news might affect his team on the court, Karl wasn't quite sure.
"I think enough guys individually have been told what's going on. I don't think we have the full information, the full story to analyze or scrutinize," Karl said. "Like I said before, I trust Bird. I think Bird will figure this out."
Mark Bryant, who serves as Andersen's agent and attorney, on Thursday said: "At this time, I respect the process and I have no further comment to protect the integrity of everyone involved. We'll proceed from there."
Bryant released a different statement to The Denver Post in which he called the Nuggets player an "outstanding member of this community."
"I believe in Chris. I would ask the citizens of Colorado to give Chris his due," Bryant wrote. "Like every one of us, he is presumed innocent. At the end of the day, I am confident it will be shown that he did nothing wrong."
Birdman is the victim of a woman scorned
As a result of the search, investigators, reported Friday, May 11 that: "The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has recovered property from Mr. Andersen’s residence that we believe is connected to this case, some of the property which includes electronic devices is being sent to the Rocky Mountain Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RMRCFL) for forensic examination."
Denver Nuggets reserve center Chris "Birdman" Andersen
But Colin Bresee, an attorney for Andersen, also suggested Friday that a woman from California tried to get items of value from Andersen.
According to their website, The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit began investigating Andersen in February 2012 in reference to information that was provided by a law enforcement agency in California.
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) detectives follow-up on tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The ICAC site says these "tips can be internet related crimes or other types of crimes where a child is a victim like child prostitution and child sex tourism."
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office that searched Andersen's home is a member of the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
"This task force is made up of several agencies throughout the State of Colorado with the goal of catching individuals that use the internet or other wireless devices who prey upon children in an attempt to exploit them for various means," the sheriff's site says.
Now, according to the Denver Post, Andersen's attorney explains:
"A female fan in 2010 mailed Mr. Andersen multiple letters and included several photos in which she was scantily clad. Chris and this woman communicated with each other and in 2011, this woman, who represented herself as 21 years of age, flew to Colorado, showing her required identification. After leaving Colorado, she became upset at his lack of interest. In 2012, she threatened to retaliate if he did not provide financial remuneration. "
According to the statement, someone purporting to be the woman's mother wrote in an email that " 'i (sic) want him to pay for everything on her Amazon wish list, 5K for her bedding stuff and her victoria secret wish list."
"Professional athletes are routinely targeted by these types of individuals," the statement said. "The media has been speculating that he's a suspect and not a victim in a criminal investigation. Mr. Andersen has been fully cooperative with the authorities. The investigation is expected to take three weeks. We're confident it will show that Chris did not engage in any criminal conduct."History of helping children
Andersen has a history of helping out charities during his time in Denver and New Orleans, where he played from 2004-08, NBA.com reported. According to the Nuggets' media guide, Andersen raised money for Mount Saint Vincent, a home for troubled and abused children, and was honored at the home's 2009 Silver Bell Ball.
Denver Nuggets reserve center Chris "Birdman" Andersen (R)
Participated in the Hornets 12 Days of Giving by handing out gifts to children at the Second Harvest Kids’ Café (also funded a Kids Café website with his proceeds from the Slam Dunk Contest)
He's also involved with Alliance for Choice in Education, which provides scholarships for low-income families to use in private schools.
His middle name is Claus, and he dressed up as Santa to raise money for ACE in 2009, according to his media guide bio. He also helped with hunger initiatives while with the Hornets.
Andersen has run into trouble before, the Denver Post reported. He was kicked out of the NBA on Jan. 27, 2006, for violating the league's drug policy. His ensuing turnaround was heralded as a success story when he rejoined the NBA in 2008.