Point of view Mom included, they all want to watch Tech's Anderson

November 27, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

ATLANTA -- An early-season basketball game is just finished, and Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson is under siege.

Not by the fans. Not by the media. But by his mother, who wants to make sure he will get a home-cooked meal that night.

He is headed for the locker room, where his teammates are already gathered with coach Bobby Cremins.

"Yes, Ma," says Anderson, intent on his destination, as his mother follows him down the hall. "OK, Ma. Ma, I've got a meeting."

Anderson heads through the locker room door, his mother hot on his heels. She goes through the door, too, and it swings closed behind her.

Moments later, Tech assistant coach Bruce Dalrymple ushers her out, smiling.

"You've got to wait," he tells Joan Anderson. "OK?"

"OK, Darlin'," she says. "I just got carried away."

Everyone does when it comes to Joan Anderson's son, Kenny, the best college point guard in the nation, and perhaps the best player overall.

Tonight, Morgan State will get an up-close-and-personal look when the Bears face the Yellow Jackets in Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta at 7:30. Area fans can see Anderson at the Capital Centre on Dec. 5, when Georgia Tech plays St. John's in the Big East-ACC Challenge.

"Kenny Anderson is a natural point guard," says Morgan State coach Michael Holmes, whose team is 0-2. "He's 6 feet 2, 166 pounds and what I like about him is he is not impacted by all the programming for strength and power. The kid never lifts a weight, and he doesn't worry about it. He is totally different from all the rest. He's a pure and simple basketball player.

"We're going to try to contain him if we can. I figure if we keep him from getting the ball, we might have a chance."

Anderson has heard such praise before, and seems unaffected by it.

"I love my family, love my friends," he says. "If you get a fat head and start bragging on your accomplishments . . . people who cared about you aren't going to be there. I wouldn't like my family or my friends alienated because of my cockiness or because of being a knucklehead.

"I think it's inbred in me not to have a big head, to remember where I came from," he says, after again reassuring his mother he will meet her at a friend's home for dinner later that evening.

His mother has been hovering all night, making sure her sophomore son will be where he is supposed to be when he's supposed to be there. That kind of attentiveness started when she stopped by a playground one afternoon, when Anderson was about 9, and realized he could play the game.

"I truly believe he is the reincarnation of my brother Jimmy," she says of her deceased brother, who introduced basketball to Kenny on a court in Queens when Kenny was 5.

"He always loved basketball," Joan Anderson says. "But even when I realized he had the talent, and had a gift, I didn't realize he was going to be so successful. When he started bringing so many trophies home, I thought he was stealing them or buying them for himself."

Kenny Anderson did not grow up on the playgrounds of New York. He went from home, to school, to the local gym, to home. Joan Anderson still thinks of him as her baby, because he is 10 years younger than her other children -- two daughters and another son -- and because she has protected him from the day he was born.

"Kenny's father and I were just lovers," says the adoring mother. "It was the wrong place, the wrong time. I had a child and we went our separate ways."

She remained by Kenny's side, and watched him play a lot of basketball.

"Other kids liked to play with toy trucks and wagons and stuff, but I just wanted to play with the basketball," says Kenny. "I'd just get so much fun out of dribbling to the grocery store for Mom. I just love the basketball."

A year ago, as a freshman, Anderson led Georgia Tech to its first Final Four appearance. He averaged 20.6 points, 8.1 assists and led the team in steals with 79. Tech put Anderson on a poster along with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver and called them Lethal Weapon 3.

Oliver and Scott have moved on to the NBA. For a while last spring, there was speculation Anderson would join them.

Anderson, who is 20, says it wasn't close.

"To me, it would have been like robbing Tech," he says. "I love being here. There's no reason for me to rush it. My first year, I thought that was kind of crazy. I just wanted to get acclimated with the school and town and get into my schoolwork. Just college life for a little bit. It's great.

"I know basketball is my future, but I'm not throwing all my eggs in one basket. Hopefully, I have a brain and I'll have an education, too."

Meanwhile, he is a wonder on the court.

"Basketball came naturally," said Jack Curran, Anderson's coach at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. "He was born with a tremendous instinct for the game."

Anderson is so talented, Cremins says, he has "all the same ingredients" as Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Bob Cousy. And when Anderson is on the floor, he uses his own instincts to embellish what Cremins has programmed.

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