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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #99: Kenny Anderson

I do love a great point guard, and Kenny could play. In high school he was regarded as one of the pre-eminent hoops prospects in the country, and was a four-time Parade All-American (the first since Lew Alcindor). In 1989 he was named National High School Player of the year by everybody.

He enrolled at Georgia Tech and played two years there, making a NCAA Final Four his freshman season. In 1991 he went pro, and the Nets selected him second overall (after Grandmama Larry Johnson). Kenny became a star point guard in the league, dishing out nearly ten assists per game while scoring in the high teens. He never did settle in with a team though, and would change squads eight times in fourteen seasons.

One of his teams was the Boston Celtics, where he was the return in the Chauncey Billups trade of 1998. Hilariously, the Trailblazers had traded Kenny to Toronto, but he refused to play in Canada and was instead shipped to Boston. He was productive for the Celtics during his five seasons, averaging 11.3 points per game and 5.2 assists alongside Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce.

Kenny was part of the first Celtics team to be relevant in a long time when they made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. That was a fun team to watch, with Pierce and Antoine capable of exploding in ways both good and bad. Kenny was the perfect trigger man for that offense, helping facilitate the two younger stars. It just was never going to be good enough.

A couple of months ago, Kenny suffered a stroke. It was the latest bad fortune to afflict a guy who grew up poor, was sexually abused as a child, filed for bankruptcy despite earning over $60 million in his playing days, and is the father of eight children by five mothers. He always could score when he needed to.

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