DENVER, May 11 (UPI) -- Denver Nuggets swingman Chris Andersen, under investigation for possible Internet crimes against children, may be the target of extortion, his lawyer said.
The Nuggets said Andersen will not participate in team activities while he is investigated. Andersen, known as "Birdman" for his distinctive hairstyle and colorful tattoos, did not play Thursday night in the Nuggets' 113-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Denver Post reported Douglas County sheriff's detectives seized items from Andersen's Larkspur, Colo., home.
Andersen's lawyer, Colin Bresee, Friday issued a statement to the Post indicating a California woman was trying to get several items of value from Andersen.
"A female fan in 2010 mailed Mr. Andersen multiple letters and included several photos in which she was scantily clad," the statement said. "Chris and this woman communicated with each other and in 2011, this woman, who represented herself as 21 years of age, flew to Colorado, showing her required identification. After leaving Colorado, she became upset at his lack of interest. In 2012, she threatened to retaliate if he did not provide financial remuneration."
The sheriff's office said in a statement Friday "no individual(s) are being identified as the focus of this investigation."
Bresee's statement indicated that professional athletes are "routinely targeted."
"The media has been speculating that he's a suspect and not a victim in a criminal investigation," the statement said. "Mr. Andersen has been fully cooperative with the authorities. The investigation is expected to take three weeks. We're confident it will show that Chris did not engage in any criminal conduct."
Nuggets Coach George Karl said before Thursday's game he had spoken with Andersen but "I don't know enough information and we're advised probably not to talk about it until we know the information."
"But the one thing I will say is, I trust Chris. My years with him, he's been fantastic and he's really grown as a person. We're going to support him and stand by him."