Sports

Morris Anderson is not giving up his basketball dream

Morris Anderson goes up for a dunk during the second half of the 2012 International Basketball League championship game for the Bellingham Slam on July 8 at Whatcom Pavilion.  - Jon Bergman/Bellingham Slam
Morris Anderson goes up for a dunk during the second half of the 2012 International Basketball League championship game for the Bellingham Slam on July 8 at Whatcom Pavilion.
— image credit: Jon Bergman/Bellingham Slam

Morris Anderson is still chasing the dream of playing professional basketball at the highest level.

It’s not an uncommon aspiration. Every kid that picks up a basketball, laces up their sneakers and hits hundreds of “game-winning” shots in the driveway would give their right arm to get paid to play the sport.

But most of us give up on the dream after high school. Not Anderson. Now 25, the former Federal Way High School star is still grinding toward that dream.

“I just love playing basketball,” Anderson said. “I’m just trying to get my dream.”

The 6-foot-3 Anderson recently played a humongous role in the Bellingham Slam winning the International Basketball League championship last week with a 142-109 victory over the Portland Chinook.

Anderson was named the Most Valuable Player of the championship game after he led the Slam with 29 points, including a 4-for-5 showing from 3-point range.

The IBL is a professional basketball league based in Vancouver, Wash., and includes teams from Washington, Oregon, Canada, New Jersey, Florida and two from Japan. Players only make about $50 a game.

But basketball isn’t Anderson’s only love — far from it. Actually, the sport falls way behind the love he has for his family, which includes his wife, Jessica, and 6-year-old daughter, Jordan. Those are the two people who allow Anderson to chase that basketball dream.

But that chase doesn’t come without sacrifices, and Anderson has made plenty of those.

“For at least right now, I’m just doing whatever I can do to provide for my family,” Anderson said.

For example, during the 2012 Bellingham Slam season, Anderson’s day started at 5:30 a.m. when he woke up and drove from his family’s Federal Way home to a warehouse in Auburn after saying goodbye to his wife and daughter.

That’s where he worked his eight-hour shift on an assembly line, putting parts together for semi trucks. After work, Anderson would jump on Interstate 5 and make the three-hour drive from Federal Way to Bellingham three or four days a week for Slam practices and games.

“At the start, it wasn’t real fun,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t real easy waking up at 5:30 every morning and not getting home until 11:30 or midnight. Then have to get back up at 5:30 again. But I kind of got used to it.”

Jessica and Jordan do make it to a lot of the Bellingham Slam’s to watch Anderson play. And, according to Anderson, Jordan’s favorite thing to do at the games is dancing during timeouts to earn free ice cream the Slam gives away.

“That’s what she likes doing,” he said.

Anderson is hoping that his play with the Slam catches the eye of a scout or coach in a bigger professional league. He has also tried out the last two years for the Boise Stampede of the NBA Developmental League but fell short.

“I feel that you gotta know somebody,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty tough going to a gym and trying out with 150 other guys. The most likely way to get noticed is to get in touch with the right people, who know people on the team.”

Anderson’s road to the Bellingham Slam has been a long and winding one.

While at Federal Way High School, the 6-foot-3 point guard was the Mirror’s All-City Boys Basketball Player of the Year following his senior season in 2005.

Anderson scored an impressive 16.2 points a game, and also led the Eagles in assists, 3-pointers and steals.

Despite the success in high school, there weren’t many college offers for Anderson following his Federal Way career. So he went up the road a little bit to play at Highline Community College.

While at Highline, Anderson earned first-team Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Western Division all-star honors as a sophomore and helped the Thunderbirds win the NWAACC championship during his freshman season.

The play earned Anderson a scholarship to Western Washington and was a first-team, All-Great Northwest Conference selection both years. As a freshman, he scored 12.9 points a game, 5.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 6.3 assists a game. As a senior, Anderson finished with 14.7 points, 5.2 assists and 2.5 steals.

So, for now, Anderson will continue chasing that basketball dream driving three hours to Bellingham during the spring and spending plenty of nights at LA Fitness in Federal Way playing with his buddies.

“Now that the season is over, I usually play four or five times a week with everybody from high school.”

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