For three seasons, Tyson Chandler "laced it up and went to battle" with the majority of the players on the Knicks roster. Because of that, the Dallas Mavericks center said he is shocked by the struggle the Knicks are having this season.
"I knew it would be a tough year . . . but I didn't know it would be this tough, to be honest," Chandler said after his Dallas Mavericks beat the Knicks, 107-87, Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The game was Tyson's first at the Garden since Knicks president Phil Jackson traded him to Dallas last summer. Chandler quickly gave fans a reminder of what they dealt away when he dunked the ball three times in the first four minutes. Chandler finished with eight points (all on dunks) and 14 rebounds.
"Tyson's not a good player, he's a great player," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "Fourteen rebounds in 25 minutes. That's a man's game."
Chandler said after the game that he had wanted to come back and play for the Knicks. Instead, he and Raymond Felton were traded for a package that included Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. At the time, Jackson said he had hoped to "change some of the chemistry" on the team.
As the Knicks (5-22) have lost game after game, the deal has become increasingly unpopular with Knicks fans. In Dallas, the 7-1 Chandler is doing significantly better than what the Knicks have at center. Entering Tuesday night, Chandler was averaging 10.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and was shooting 68.2 percent.
Chandler initially was upset with reports out of New York intimating that he had been part of a chemistry problem on the team last season. In a meeting against the Knicks in Dallas on Nov. 26, Chandler made sure the Knicks new what they were missing when he scored 17 points with 25 rebounds in a 109-102 Mavericks overtime win.
Tuesday, Chandler said he has put the trade behind him and no longer takes what was said personally because his name was never mentioned. He said it felt great to be cheered by Knicks fans when he was introduced, and that he has a lot of fond memories of playing here.
Chandler was a big part of Knicks teams that went to the playoffs in two of his three years here. He said he felt they could have gotten there last year, too, if he hadn't broken his leg early in the season when the team got off to a bad start.
Chandler is thrilled to be with the 18-8 Mavericks. He said it is hard to see what his former teammates are going through, especially Carmelo Anthony. When asked if he "felt sorry" for Anthony, Chandler nodded.
"I do. I do. He's a competitor," Chandler said. "I lace it up and went to battle with him the last three years. I know what kind of competitor he is. I know he wants to win."
"I know he's going to take a lot of the heat. It's unfortunate because he's a helluva player in this league.