Tyson Chandler was in Knicks’ colors for just three seasons – in that time he won a Defensive Player of the Year award, and helped the franchise win it’s first – and only – playoff series since we moved into the new millennium.
Chandler returned to the Garden on Tuesday night and it was a warm welcome from the outset, from both fans and local media. Chandler walked towards the Mavericks’ side of the floor for warmups and was greeted with positive energy from fans. In true Chandler fashion, he reciprocated the love right back. After that, it was all business as he helped the Mavericks push away in the second-half of the game to win convincingly, 107-87.
Chandler finished the night with eight points and 14 rebounds.
“He’s not a good player,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, “he’s a great player. … Fourteen rebounds in 25 minutes: That’s a man’s game right there.”
For much of this past off-season it was presented to the NBA world that Chandler was traded away to improve team chemistry. That didn’t sit well with Chandler. Entering Tuesday night’s game, he was averaging 10.7 points, 11.5 rebounds while shooting 68.2 percent from the field. The first time the Mavs played the Knicks this season he pounded his former team with 17 points and 25 rebounds.
“He puts in the work,” Carlisle said of Chandler. “We’ve gotten better than last year because of him He’s gotten better. He’s better in all areas.”
The Knicks, however, have not gotten better this season. They are struggling on both ends of the floor as their season has reached train wreck status – the team’s record at home is just 3-11. They sorely miss Chandler’s presence.
Chandler said he feels for Carmelo Anthony who receives the brunt of the New York media’s criticism.
“I do because he’s a competitor,” said Chandler. “I laced them up and went to battle with him for the last three years and know what kind of competitor he is. I know he wants to win, and I know he’s going to take a lot of this heat. And it’s unfortunate because he’s a hell of a player in our league. It’s just unfortunate.”
The Knicks continue to rack up the losses with no light seemingly in sight for the team. When Anthony signed on for five seasons, and $124 million this past summer he knew that he wasn’t going to compete for a championship this season, but he never imagined this.
“He signed a contract to come back here with expectations of doing everything in his power to take this team to the next level,” Chandler said. “I ultimately feel like it will with the right pieces. They have to get luck with some things in free agency or get a high draft pick or whatever the case may be, but it takes a while to change the culture.
“You bring in a new coach and you bring in a new offense and a new identity. As long as players and everybody here understands that it’s a process, it’ll be all right. The moment it gets tough is when you’re losing. Losing makes things difficult.”
As things get increasingly more difficult and frustrating for the Knicks, the decision to trade away their best interior defender looks worse by the game.
Feature image via: Howard Simmons/New York Daily News