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Miami Heat Player Countdown: #60-58

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Today's dissertation concerns currently rostered big-man Chris Andersen, along with Eric Murdock and Vladimir Stepania.

Alexander Tamargo

60. Chris Andersen

Chris Andersen is a 6'10" center from Long Beach, CA. He is the only product of the Blinn College Buccaneer to have ever made it to the NBA (although Cam Newton attended there for a while). In one college season he averaged 10 points with eight rebounds. The right-hander, born on July 7th, 1978, played a season of high school ball at Iola High, in Iola, TX. He never got drafted, joining the Jiangsu Nangang (China) in 1999.

Andersen later latched on with the New Mexico Slam (IBL), the Fargo-Moorhead Beez (IBA), and the Fayetteville Patriots (NBA D-League). He joined the Denver Nuggets in 2001-02, playing 154 games for them over the next three seasons. He later played three seasons with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (104 games). He missed the 2006-07 season after failing a drug test. He rejoined the Nuggets in 2008-09, staying for four seasons (224 games). The Nuggets waived him before 2012 training camp.

On January 20th, 2013, Miami signed Andersen to the first of two 10-day contracts, eventually signing for the rest of the season. The Heat paid him $699,952. In 42 games, all off the bench, he averaged 15 minutes, scoring five points with four rebounds and one block per game. He shot 57.7% from the field, three times posting in double figures. Miami went 39-3 with him on the floor. On April 6th, he scored seven points with 15 rebounds in 25 minutes of a 106-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. In a 105-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls on April 14th, he scored 15 points on four-of-four shooting with seven rebounds in only 15 minutes. Miami went 66-16, entitling them to the top seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Andersen appeared in 20 of Miami's 23 playoff games, sinking 46-of-57 field goal attempts for an incredible 80.7% shooting success rate. He scored 6.5 points a game, adding four rebounds and a block. In a game one win over the Indiana Pacers, 103-102 in the Eastern Conference Finals, he scored 16 points by sinking all seven of his shots, along with five boards and three rejections. The Pacers extended Miami to seven games, but were eliminated, as were the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals as Miami took home their second NBA Title in a row.

"Birdman"Chris Andersen top 10 plays in Miami Heat (via Kwaaa Music)

Andersen, labelled "The Birdman" early in his career due to his skill at maneuvering above the rim, allegedly has approximately 75% of his body covered by tattoos. He also sports a mohawk as his hairstyle of choice. After Miami secured the title, Andersen signed on with Miami for two more seasons at $2,847,997.

All-Time HEATline: One season, 42 games, 14.9 minutes, 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.0 blocks, 19.9 PER, 4.6 win shares.

59. Eric Murdock

Eric Murdock was a 6'1" point guard out of Bridgewater-Raritan High School in New Jersey. Born on June 14th, 1968, the native of Somerville went to the University of Providence, starting for four seasons. He averaged 25.6 points with 5.3
rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest as a senior. After graduating with the Class of 1991, the Utah Jazz selected him in the first round of the draft, with the 21st overall pick.

After playing 50 games with the Jazz as a rookie, he joined the Milwaukee Bucks for parts of four seasons (245 games), the Vancouver Grizzlies (64 games), and the Denver Nuggets (12 games). On September 10th, 1997, he signed a one year free agent contract with Miami for $272,500.

In Miami, Murdock played in all 82 games, the second time in his career that he accomplished the feat. He shot 42.2% from the field, including 30.8% from three-point range. In 17 minutes per game, he averaged six points with two rebounds and three assists, along with 1.3 steals. He had 20 games in which he scored double digits, and on one occasion put up double digit assists. On November 3rd, in a 112-99 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, he put up 17 points with three assists, three steals, and two rebounds. He scored 15 points with five rebounds, five assists and two steals in only 14 minutes on January 17th, in a 108-99 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. On March 31st, in a 121-95 win over the Boston Celtics, he scored 11 points with eight assists in 19 minutes. The Heat went 55-27, winning the Atlantic Division with the second seed. They lost in the opening round, three-games-to-two to the New York Knicks. Murdock averaged 9.4 points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes per game. Miami released him after the season.

Murdock later logged NBA experience with the New Jersey Nets (15 games) and the Los Angeles Clippers (40 games). Two seasons after his final appearance, he played with the Grand Rapids Hoops (CBA), Kinder Bologna (Italy), and with the Jersey Squires (ABA). He was the director of basketball player development at Rutgers University from 2010-2012, and is currently involved with a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school. He was dismissed from his position after having shown recordings of coach Mike Rice using homophobic slurs against school athletic director Tim Pernetti.

All-Time HEATline: One season, 82 games, 17.0 minutes, 6.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.2 blocks, 15.9 PER, 4.6 win shares.

58. Vladimir Stepania

Vladimir Stepania was a 7' center from Georgia, formerly a province of the USSR. Born on May 8th, 1976, he started out his professional career with KD Slovan (Slovenia) in 1995-96. He also played with KK Union Olimipjia (Slovenia) through 1999. The Seattle SuperSonics selected him in the first round of the 1999 draft, with the 27th overall pick.

Stepania played two seasons with the Sonics (53 games). He scored 3.8 points with 2.3 rebounds per game, playing just under 10 minutes on each occasion. He spent 2000-01 with the New Jersey Nets (29 games), scoring 2.8 points with 3.8 rebounds per appearance. He signed as a free agent with Miami prior to the 2001-02 season for two years and $1,915,850.

In 2001-02, Stepania played in 67 games, starting four times at center. He shot 47% from the field in 13.2 minutes average, scoring 4.3 points with four rebounds and just under a block per game. He notched two double-doubles, scoring in double figures eight times through the campaign. On November 6th, in an 87-85 win over Seattle, he scored 10 points on five-of-seven shooting, collecting four rebounds in 15 minutes. On November 16th, in a rare start, he scored 19 points with 12 rebounds and seven blocks in 45 minutes as the Heat lost to the Charlotte Hornets, 96-87. In a 103-89 win over the Orlando Magic on April 17th, he scored 12 points on six-of-seven shooting with three rebounds in 17 minutes. Miami posted a 36-46 record, missing the playoffs by six games.

2002-03 would see Stepania play in 79 games, starting six at center. He shot 43.3% in a career high 20.2 minutes per
contest. He also achieved career highs with 5.6 points and seven rebounds earned per game. Seven times he posted double doubles, scoring 10 or more points 15 times. In a 97-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on November 19th, he scored nine points with a career high 15 rebounds. On New Year's Day, in a 107-73 victory against the Atlanta Hawks, he scored 16 points on six-of-seven shooting, with 13 rebounds and four steals. On March 14th, he scored a career high 17 points in 28 minutes, shooting eight-of-10 field goals. Miami went 25-57 on the season. Stepania was not retained for a third season.

Stepania joined the Portland TrailBlazers in 2003-04, playing in 42 games. He retired following the season at the age of 28.

All-Time HEATline:
Two seasons, 146 games, 17.0 minutes, 5.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.6 blocks, 13.7 PER, 4.6 win shares.