By the time Bruce Prince became Tyson Chandler’s personal trainer in 2010, the 7-foot-1 center was at a crossroads in his NBA career.
Chandler missed 68 games the previous two seasons because of multiple injuries, and wasn’t physically fit when the Dallas Mavericks got him in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets.
“It was interesting when I got with him, he was coming off a major surgery on his ankle and his big toe,” Prince said. “So when I got with him and saw his energy and his motor for the workouts, it was amazing.”
Prince had previously been a trainer for Dwyane Wade, Devin Harris, Tracy McGrady, Michael Finley and Juwan Howard, among others. Chandler was an intriguing player for Prince to work with.
“I had worked with a lot of players, but not one with the kind of attitude he’s got,” Prince said. “He’s a superstar and he’s just like a regular guy at the same time, so it was amazing.”
Chandler wasn’t even penciled in as the Mavs’ starter when Dallas acquired him. That luxury belonged to Brendan Haywood.
But Chandler beat out Haywood and was the catalyst behind the Mavericks winning the 2011 NBA title.
“Remember when we got Tyson we thought he was going to back up B-Wood,” owner Mark Cuban said. “But he’s more confident now, he’s not as hesitant, because he was still getting his knee back [in 2010].”
Chandler entered Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls averaging 11.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
The scene at the United Center on Tuesday brought back memories for Chandler, who played his first five seasons with the Bulls after he was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 draft.
“It’s a special city to play in,” Chandler said. “I think all of us grew up hearing the [pregame introduction] music that Michael [Jordan] came out to. So any time you hear that music and you’re on the floor it always brings a little chill to your body, because I think we all grew up watching the Bulls in the ’90s. Hearing that music and hearing the Bull Run, that in itself gets me pumped up.”
Chandler, who graduated from high school in Compton, Calif., in suburban Los Angeles, said his mother was pumped up when the Los Angeles Clippers chose him in the 2001 draft. That meant Chandler was going to start his NBA career at home.
At least he thought he was. Until the Clippers traded him to the Bulls.
“I didn’t know about the trade until I had got done with all my media [interviews] at the draft,” Chandler said. “My last sit-down the guy told me he thought I had been traded, and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ”
Chandler, though, took the trade in stride.
“For me, [playing in the NBA] was just a dream come true,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t care where I was playing. It was going to be exciting to be home, but as long as I had on an NBA uniform I was going to be happy. It was more tough for my mom to deal with knowing her baby was going to be going across country.”