Directed by Jill Campbell
“Mr. Chibbs” was what my mother called me when I was born, she squeezed my cheeks and said “cheeks chibbs.” All the kids in the neighborhood called me that. Chibbs was the innocent kid raised on the streets of LeFrak City with dreams of making it to the NBA, so that he could give his mother a better life. Kenny Anderson is the man made it, the guy who walked around with a mask on all his life. Who’s better?”
Kenny Anderson was a New York City phenomenon. He was recruited by every college in the nation. Dean Smith visited him at his apartment in LeFrak City. Represented by super agent David Falk, Kenny had money, fame and an abundance of talent that drove him for 14 years in the NBA on the Nets, the Celtics and The Trailblazers and many other teams. When Kenny retired at 35, that life, the drive, the exhilaration and the structure that the world of basketball gave him, disappeared. He was left to question his identity. “Mr. Chibbs” follows Kenny ten years post retirement shortly after getting slapped with a DUI and subsequently asked not to return to his job as a high school basketball coach at a private Jewish High School. Lost and searching, Kenny embarks on a journey back to the people and places from his past: some sentimental like his visit to his high school and some crazy, like when he went to North Korea and shook Kim Jong Un’s hand.
Kenny yearns for the relevance he felt back in the day, yet knows those times are behind him and he must forge a new way forward in order to find happiness. As Kenny journeys back to the people and places of his past, a different type of relevance emerges, one that’s grounded in the love, support and advice from his children, his best friend, his ex Spinderella, his mentors Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Judge Pierre Turner, Vince Smith and Nate “Tiny” Archibald, his former Georgia Tech teammates Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver, his college rival Duke’s Bobby Hurley, his former Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins and most importantly his wife Natasha.
The film utilizes an observational/direct cinema approach while incorporating unseen archival footage from Kenny’s spectacular career forming memories that connect to Kenny’s journey.
Kenny was in the NBA, he had structure similar to a day job, when he retired all of that disappeared. It was compelling to begin the story from this place. Kenny worked diligently from a very young age. He’s attained financial security and will eventually receive an NBA pension. He could have just rested on his laurels, but his innate drive and curiosity pushed him to a realization that now’s the time to become a champion of his personal life. Kenny calls himself a “work in progress.” “Mr. Chibbs” demonstrates that we’re all works in progress.