MONTCLAIR, NJ - Mr. Chibbs, documentary on the life of retired NBA Player Kenny Anderson, opened at the Montclair Film Festival on Sunday. The film is dotted with anecdotal notes and colorful language, as we get to see a man who is on a life mission to change lives by sharing his.
The New Jersey Nets top draft pick, now retired, shares a compelling story captured by film documentarian Jill Campbell.
Through the cameras lens, we get a glimpse into the life of Anderson from a child prodigy on the courts growing up in Oueens, NY playing basketball to how he came to be nicknamed 'Chibbs' from birth because of his fat cheeks.
Anderson shared a candid view of his personal life including his stories of growing up in a dysfunctional family, to his exposure to drugs and molestation. Viewers catch a glimpse of his issues with infidelity, including several failed marriages and having 8 children. One of those marriages was to Spinderella of the 90s rap group Salt-n-Pepa, with whom he has a daughter and the other to basketball wives reality star, Tami Roman, with whom he has two daughters.
His alcohol abuse and subsequent DUI charge was also discussed, which resulted in his termination as coach at a high school in Florida.
Anderson's entire life was on display and he was open and honest about every aspect, which was why director Campbell says she was drawn to his story.
The film also mentions his controversial travel to play basketball in communist North Korea, and brings it back to him coming full circle reconnecting with family and friends, coaching, and re-establishing a bond with his children.
Toward the end of the film, viewers see that Anderson is now beginning to use his name as a brand, an opportunity he did not capitalize on fully as an NBA player, he mentioned.
When Campbell was asked what had drawn her to Anderson's story? She responded, "After reconnecting with Kenny coming off 14 years [in the NBA] and 10 years post-retirement from the NBA and once hearing his story, I knew there was something there and couldn't resist telling it."
Anderson said that, in filming this project, he hoped to pay it forward. "Paying it forward," he said, stating that its his way of giving back with the authenticity of his story so that it can help others.
The film opens with Anderson smoking a cigar and on the phone re-establishing himself as a marketable brand, while reflecting back on opportunities missed. He stated, "I was selfish and now I'm learning to be unselfish and that includes facing past demons, revisiting old neighborhoods, chatting with former coaches, friends and rivals, and stirring up old memories long buried."
Despite all of the adversity he faced, Anderson was a high school standout who, after being accepted at Georgia Tech, left in his sophomore year to become drafted as a basketball player for the New Jersey Nets. At an early age, he attained the American dream of changing his life and providing for his mother, who had her own demons, but as he learned, money and fame come with a high cost.
In the film, Anderson walks through his old neighborhood in a section of Queens to chat with former coaches, friends and rival players.
The movie closes with a highlight of his newfound relationship with his children and his current wife, as well as former wives.
After the movie concluded, a question and answer period with questions from the viewing audience commenced.
"In watching the documentary did you (Kenny) have a father figure?" someone asked.
It was evident in the documentary that Anderson reflected back on the men who believed in his talent and aided in his push to become a recognized point guard in the game of basketball. He reaffirmed, in answering the question, that despite not having a father, there were individuals that aided him.
Another audience question, "DId the NBA prepare you for retirement?"
To that, Anderson replied, "No!" Followed by, "No disrespect to the NBA." Approval had to be obtained to include clips and his comments on the franchise. Anderson added, "We are grown men and therefore responsible for our money-making investing and keeping up with what we [need to] do."
Anderson responded that, in sharing his personal story, it was his desire to help someone else. "Give your story, just help someone. That's basically what it is." He continued, "Give your story, open up yourself even though it might be hard to tell the truth, but open up and help someone get through their problems. By and through my experiences and my life lessons, I've got to give those to someone else to help them."
"Mr. Chibbs" opens nationwide at IFC theatres.
For more information, visit www.montclairfilmfest.org
Natalie Heard Hackett contributed to this story.