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Heat's Birdman ready for 'exciting' and 'emotional' return to Denver; Expects to play against Nuggets

Chris Andersen, who has missed the Heat's last two games with back tightness, expects to play in Denver on Monday. It will be Andersen's first game in Denver since being amnestied by the Nuggets in July of 2012.

“It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be emotional, but I’ve got a game to play,” Andersen told The Herald on Saturday in Portland. The Heat defeated the Trail Blazers 108-107 with Andersen and LeBron James out with injuries. James, who strained his right groin muscle, is doubtful for Monday's game.

Andersen played the majority of his career in Denver and was a fan favorite during his two stints with the team, but his departure from the Nuggets was one of the most trying times of Andersen’s life. He was excused from the team during the 2012 playoffs after police investigated Andersen’s home for Internet crimes. The investigation ultimately exonerated Andersen of any wrongdoing, and it was later revealed that Andersen was the victim of an elaborate Internet scam.

Still, the months that Andersen spent away from basketball were excruciating, and it wasn't until January 2013 that Andersen began the third act of his career. The Heat initially signed Andersen to a 10-day contract to see if he could help the team, but it was apparent after Birdman's first practice that he was the missing piece the team needed. Andersen then became an unlikely star during the Heat's playoff run.

Out of loyalty to the team that gave him a chance, Andersen signed a one-year deal with the Heat in the offseason for the veteran's minimum. He then attended LeBron's wedding in San Diego this summer.

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