Mar 29, 2023 - News

The surgeon who wielded a rubber chicken

A man speaks into a bullhorn at a basketball game.

Richard Anderson cheers on the Jazz. Photo courtesy of Mark Anderson

If longtime Jazz fans don't know Richard Anderson's name, they'll remember his rubber chickens.

  • The sax-blasting, blowup-doll-twirling, three-decade courtside ticket holder who once armed an entire seating section with rubber chickens to wave during free throws died from cancer this week.

Catch-up quick: In Utah, Anderson was best known for his years of prop-assisted heckling from his seat behind the basket.

  • He bought out the two seats behind his so fans couldn't admonish him to sit down with his signs, stop tossing his face-shaped basketball in the air or put down his umbrella.
  • Yes, but: Refs still gave warnings — and when they couldn't rein in the superfan, the higher-ups were deployed, Anderson's son Mark told Axios. "Dad got in trouble a few times with a couple of different commissioners," Mark said.

About those chickens: Richard Anderson frequently brought a rubber chicken to shake in the air until NBA officials threatened his tickets.

  • When Anderson balked, he was told the chicken was a distraction because it was such an odd fan prop, he told the Deseret News.
  • Unfortunately for the NBA, Salt Lake City is home to one of the world's largest rubber chicken distributors. Anderson bought scores of them to share so no one could say he "stood out" as a distraction, Mark said.

Off-court, Anderson was a renowned ocular plastic surgeon who helped pioneer therapeutic and cosmetic uses for botulinum toxin (aka Botox).

What they're saying: "It was his way to be on the team," Mark said. "He wanted to say he helped the Jazz win."

Erin's thought bubble: I'm acquainted with Anderson's family, but I just met the good doctor once at a dinner he seasoned with jokes that I only wish I could repeat in this newsletter.

The bottom line: None of us gets out of this world alive, so maybe the best we can hope for is to make it to the buzzer with a blowup doll in one hand and a rubber chicken in the other.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Salt Lake City stories

No stories could be found

Salt Lake Citypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more