Photos: Chris "Birdman" Andersen goodbye even though he's still on Nuggets?

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Big photos below.
Remember Chris "Birdman" Andersen? He was arguably the most popular member of the Denver Nuggets -- a bigger fave among lotsa fans than even Carmelo Anthony -- during many of the squad's best recent seasons due in part to his larger-than-life personality, celebrated in a photo gallery below. But as the Nugs prepare to play Oklahoma City this evening in a game that could hardly be bigger for their hopes of advancing in the playoffs, the Birdman is missing in action -- so much so that one of Denver's top sports blogs is bidding him adieu while he's still on the team.

"Farewell to Chris Andersen and his Birdman persona," by Denver Stiffs' Nate Timmons, has the sort of retrospective tone we tend to associate with articles about players who've been traded or have decided to retire (like the Broncos' Brian Dawkins). But as Timmons makes clear in his first paragraph, Birdman has been hiding in plain sight:

It appears that Chris Andersen's time as a Denver Nuggets player is drawing to an end. Andersen hasn't appeared in a game since March 25th and hasn't played meaningful minutes since March 15th against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Definitely a fan-favorite, Andersen was as well-known for his Mohawk and tattoos as he was for his dunks and blocks. The last member remaining of the Western Conference Finals team will forever be known as the Birdman and his persona will be missed.

Why has Birdman been forgotten on the bench? The combination of more (and much deserved) playing time for super-rookie Kenneth Faried and his own spotty performances. Arguably his most memorable moment of the season took place in early March, when the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan hit him in the face with the ball and then dunked on him. See it here:

About a week later, Andersen had what I saw as a terrible game against the Memphis Grizzlies, then didn't even get into a thrilling Nugs victory over the Atlanta Hawks about a week later.

In a comment attached to our post about the Atlanta contest, which was pretty much the last hurrah in Denver for Nene, a reader argued that Birdman had actually looked pretty good versus the Griz. But coach George Karl apparently disagreed, and has kept the Birdman in the doghouse for much of the month and a half since then.

Will Andersen get on the floor tonight, given the minutes he earned against the Thunder last time around? Hard to say. But given the importance of the game, the Nugs will need all the help they can get.

In the meantime, celebrate Andersen (and his ink) with this batch o' photos from the Birdman's Facebook page.

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Look at the extras that come with this car.

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That "Bird" is green.

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A man with a fan.

Page down to see more tat-heavy photos of Chris "Birdman" Andersen.

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