08/09/11 - 03:43pm
In a way, Tyson Chandler is like the rest of us basketball fans. He has no idea how or when the current labor dispute between NBA owners and players will end.
"It really depends on what side you listen to," said the 28-year-old Hanford native, just six weeks after he and the rest of the Dallas Mavericks won the franchise's first NBA Word Championship 4-2 over the highly-favored Miami Heat.
Chandler says he tries to return to Hanford each offseason, but visits have been limited the last two years because of his participation on the U.S. national team.
He said he carved out time for this year's trip, even before the Mavericks' magnificent playoff run, marked by several come-from-behind wins, not only over the Heat and the highly-touted trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but a sweep of the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals.
"That's just the kind of team we were," he said.
Shouts of, "Hi Tyson" were commonplace, as well as Mavericks T-shirts, and Chandler was always happy to oblige fans with an autograph. Chandler, a lean 7-foot-1, 235 lbs., lived on a family farm in Hanford until the age of 10, when his family moved to Southern California.
After winning the state high school Division II title with Dominguez (Compton) in 2001, he entered the NBA draft and was originally picked by the Los Angeles Clippers, as the No. 2 overall selection. The Clippers dealt his rights to the Chicago Bulls.
Stops during his career before joining the Mavericks have included New Orleans and Charlotte.
Giving back has always been part of Chandler's life. While with the Hornets, he helped organize a charity for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
It's been a whirlwind summer for Chandler, with all the festivities surrounding the Mavericks winning the title, but also one for some relaxation, including not only the trip to Hanford, but a recent trip to Europe. He said he's also gong to China later this summer on behalf of Nike.
And how does winning the NBA title feel?
Chandler says it's "fun" having the colorful Mark Cuban as his boss.
"He puts a lot of money into putting on a good show and the fans like it," he said.
Chandler also spoke highly of teammate Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA Finals MVP.
"He's definitely one of the top players in the league and is going to go down as one of the top three big men of all time," he said. "If that's what being soft is, I want to be soft."
Spoken like a champion.