Former NBA point guard Kenny Anderson talks about what he learned about himself while filming Mr. Chibbs. The Queens kid and schoolyard hoops legend pauses for a moment while sitting with a Yankee cap atop his head, he’s dressed casually, and his hands have been moving animatedly while he talks about his basketball-playing days, first at Archbishop Molloy in Queens, later at Georgia Tech and then finally during his 14-year, NBA career, which started after the Nets drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft.
But Anderson is suddenly silent when discussing a singular transgression that he was involved in three years ago — a DUI arrest in south Florida — and the tears well up in his eyes quickly. Anderson dabs both cheeks and digs his knuckle into the corner of one eye. He calls the arrest and subsequent termination of his job as boys basketball coach at tiny David Posnack Jewish Day School in Davie, Florida, one of the most painful moments in his life, which is saying something after the roller coaster ride Anderson has endured.
“I loved those kids. I needed them more than they needed me,” says Anderson, referring to his former charges on the David Posnack team. “It’s weird because I let them [sic] 12 kids down. That’s what hurt the most. All of us have got little skeletons and you can get away with them and all that. You can’t get away with it [anymore]. As far as the DUI and then the kids, it was like, ‘Wow, man, he let us down.’ It really hurt me. Really hurt me.”
Anderson is 46 now, on his third marriage and the father of eight kids (seven biological). He’s also a grandfather. Much of the estimated $63 million he earned playing in the NBA is gone. His mother, Joan, his champion and the family member he was closest with, died more than a decade ago. His professional life is at a crossroads. Anderson says the perfect storm of those and many other events led him to decide he was ready to put all of his life out on the table — or in this case, on the screen — for the public to see. No punches pulled. He would reveal all the diamonds, all the warts. Mr. Chibbs, the terrific documentary of Anderson, written and directed by Jill Campbell, premiered Saturday, Nov. 12 at the DOC NYC festival at the SVA Theater in Chelsea, but Anderson says it is only part of his legacy. Only part of the story.