As he went into this past off-season, Tyson Chandler was of the firm belief that he was going to return for his fourth season with the New York Knicks.
Although the Knicks missed the playoffs while Chandler missed 27 games with a leg injury, he figured if he could get his health back, then the Knicks would be right back in the playoff picture.
“I was frustrated, absolutely, disappointed with myself, absolutely, on the last day of the season and as I walked out of that (practice) facility on the last day,” Chandler said. “But when I get to summer and some time to clear your head and let go of all bad things that happen during the course of the year, I had nothing but good vibes and positive thoughts coming into the season and I thought I was coming back here.”
Knicks president Phil Jackson, however, threw salt on those positive thoughts and traded Raymond Felton and Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks this past June 25. And in Chandler’s first game back in New York since the trade, he first received what he said was a surprising and warm ovation Tuesday night from the crowd at Madison Square Garden.
Chandler then went out and scored eight points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to help the Mavs knock off the Knicks, 107-87.
Coach Rick Carlisle expressed extreme gratitude in the way Chandler handled everything during his stay in New York.
“He’s not a good player, he’s a great player,” Carlisle said of Chandler. “He wanted to win badly, but he wanted to win because he wants our team to win.
“He’s not into a lot of the other nonsense like a lot of other people.”
Earlier this season in a win over the Knicks in Dallas, Chandler poured in 17 points and pulled down a season-high 25 rebounds. In Carlisle eyes, the two games spoke to the character Chandler has always possessed.
“I’m happy for him that we got these two games over with and that we were able to win them because they’re important games for us and he played another great game, even though his stats weren’t as gaudy as last time,” Carlisle said. “Fourteen rebounds in 25 minutes, that’s a man’s game right there.”
Forward Chandler Parsons, who was loudly booed every time he touched the ball last month in his first game back in Houston, could certainly appreciate what transpired in Chandler’s initial game back in New York.
“He’s a professional, man,” Parsons said. “I wish he would have come here (to play in New York) before I went to Houston, so I could learn from him, but I’m not surprised by this and he’s a great player and he’s been great for us all year long.
“I know how uncomfortable these situations can be just by going back to Houston. The biggest thing that he wanted to do is just win, and I’m glad that we can beat them twice for him.”
While Chandler has comfortably settled into his digs in Dallas, he can’t help but think about what may have been had he remained with the Knicks.
“I had a great summer last year and it sucked because I ended up breaking my leg early in a freak accident and it just seemed like I was never able to get out the gate,” Chandler said. “And it was unfortunate because I felt like I had some good years here and it just seemed like everything came down to that final year here that I didn’t feel good about.
“Then I got back to training this summer and I had a great summer with expectations of coming back here. I started training about two weeks after I got back home.”
Shortly thereafter, Chandler was on his way to the Mavs via a trade. A trade that came after Jackson said — without mentioning Chandler and Felton by name — that there was some chemistry issues. So, were the chemistry issues about Chandler and Felton?
“I hope it wasn’t about me,” Chandler said. “Since my name wasn’t in it, I would, now that I’ve had more time to think about it, not take it personal.”
Chandler just let his play speak for itself. And he in the two games this season against the Knicks he totaled 25 points and 39 rebounds.