Tyson Chandler thought it might never come.
Before this season he was already an NBA champion, an NBA Defensive Player of the Year and an Olympic gold medalist.
But the 30-year-old had never been an All-Star … until this year.
“There (were) times when I felt like I should have been an All-Star,” Chandler said. “Like last year, like my Dallas year, like New Orleans when we had the No. 1 record.
“There (were) definitely plenty of years where I thought ‘man…’ It was definitely disappointing. I thought maybe the way I play isn’t necessarily being recognized. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the type of player I am and what I really stood for as a player.”
Chandler’s game isn’t flashy. He isn’t a pure scorer. He’s scrappy. He plays defense. He does things that don’t show up on the scoreboard. He’s a real old-school center. Maybe, he thought, the NBA didn’t reward his type of player anymore.
“I’m just thankful that it happened,” he said. “I think people look at me and think ‘oh, it’s inconsistent’ … Sometimes, you’re just looking at the wrong stat.”
Want an important stat? How’s this one?
The Knicks are 32-18 this season and hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference standings. But what’s more impressive is that they’re doing it with defense. They’re allowing 95.7 points per game, the eighth best number in the NBA.
“What he’s done and what he’s doing is something special,” Chandler’s New York teammate Carmelo Anthony said. “Defensive Player of the Year. He’s our anchor. He’s our voice out there, one of our voices out there. He holds the middle down. A lot of little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
Those little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He’s one of the best players in the NBA and he’s never really gotten the credit he deserves. Really, he still isn’t getting it.
The NBA voting starts three forwards instead of two forwards and a center, the way it used to be. If the voting allowed centers, Chandler would have been a starter in the All-Star Game on Sunday.
“I think they should bring it back because it shows even without the fan vote, you still got a couple of centers on each side,” Chandler said. “I didn’t make a difference for me. Obviously it would have been great. I was the leading vote-getter for the center position but I’m just happy to be here to be honest with you. It’s such an incredible group of guys. So much talent here from top to bottom.”
He’s in his ninth season and Chandler is considered one of the best in the league by the rest of the NBA and now, he hopes everyone will see him in that light. But for now, he’s just relishing his first-career All-Star Game.
“I’m just happy to be here to be honest with you,” he said. “The fact that I was voted and voted by the coaches means a lot to me because when a coach votes you in, I think it has a certain significance. Because it says that they feel like you’re an All-Star. You competed against them, they feel like you’re key reason why the team is having success. It’s basically like them saying ‘if I was starting a team, I would want this guy on my team.’ I think the coaches’ vote holds a lot of power.”