The only word that can describe Tyson Chandler’s play in the last three games also happens to be a word that not one, but TWO of his teammates have been labeled as over the past two seasons. Everyone always looks to the glitz of Carmelo’s 40-point performances, or the pizazz of Amar’e's 2010 run of 9 straight 30-point games, but never the “ugly” stat of rebounding. Whether we are all drawn to sharpshooting and crazy shots (a la J.R. Smith) or just the sheer simplicity of the ball “going in”, we seem to shortchange rebounding as a sidenote to a great performance of a scorer. LeBron, Rondo, and Kevin Durant will all get their 7 rebounds a night, all of them usually coming after the opposition gets back on the frontcourt to set up their defensive sets. They are scorers, but we all pride them on being two-faceted as well. This is all fine, but what happens to the rebounders? Do we go to work, and the conversation begin with, “Hey Mike, you see how many boards Omer Asik grabbed last night? Jeez man, he’s an All-Star.”? The answer is no, but that doesn’t mean that players like Tyson Chandler should go unnoticed. In fact, Mr. C deserves more ups than anyone on the current Knicks squad, including Melo.
Every successful team needs a heart and soul, and that is what number 6 in orange and blue provides. Performance wise, he can grab you anywhere in the range of 9 to 20 rebounds on a given night. He can score around 10 -15 points, which the Knickerbockers do not need more of with Melo and J.R. and Amar’e. He is a floor general from under the basket, a motivator who always seeks out the best effort possible from his teammates . Without one, any team would possess handfulls less of drive to win ( eg: Wiz without Wall; Bulls without Noah) than the other team they are playing, and ultimately lose. By this rule, Tyson Chandler is more valuable to the Knicks’ success than Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo is a BETTER PLAYER than Chandler, don’t get me wrong, but he is much less effective without being surrounded by three-point shooters and a teammate that can give him extra possessions with offensive rebounding like Chandler. All Tyson needs is his will, his strength, his athleticism and his height to be an effective big man.
I fully believe that Tyson Chandler deserved to start in the All-Star game in Houston over Kevin Garnett; K.G. is not producing like his first few years in Boston and there are 2 better centers than him in his own division (3 if Bynum ever comes back from Bowling-injury-land). Overall, Tyson is perhaps the third-best center in the league (Bosh, a healthy Howard) and with the lineup the Knicks have, it finally seems right that they sit at 31-15 before Wednesday’s game @ Wizards. Being an All-Star has come with some challenges, with coach Mike Woodson telling Chandler to “Well, you got voted to the All-Star team. Now start playing like one.” Tyson has taken this and put together 3 of the best games of his career, with 20 rebounds in 3 STRAIGHT GAMES. He has cemented his place in Knicks history by tying the record for most consecutive 20-rebound games (3), and he’ll try to break it in their next game. Tyson Chandler is the hardest-working person you see take the floor at Madison Square Garden. He is the spiritual leader of the team. He will never cause any drama or gather “Can they play together?” talk because it was already deflected at Amar’e and Carmelo, and the issue is obviously resloved. And as the Knicks sit pretty at the second seed in the Eastern Conference, who do we give credit to? Carmelo Anthony: well deserved. Mike Woodson: well deserved. Amar’e Stoudamire for coming off the bench: well deserved. Yet there is someone who never seems to get the ups he deserves, and he reflects at his work for this team and knows in his heart why he doesn’t. He is a rebounder, and he is the proudest man on planet Earth for just that.