On December 10, 2011, I was in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with my daughter for a cheerleading competition. While waiting in line for Test Track at Epcot, I saw the news on my phone: Tyson Chandler agrees to terms with New York Knicks. Another Knicks fan in line heard me say it, and we celebrated, more than 1,000 miles from Madison Square Garden.
Knicks fans have criticized owner James Dolan for making some questionable and outright horrible moves. But give him credit for getting this one right. Chandler was the right player at the right time for the Knicks.
Last season, the Knicks were the third worst defensive team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They were also dominated on the boards. Their -3.5 rebound differential was third worst in the league.
So at the start of this season, defense and rebounding were the priorities. Enter Chandler. Chandler has exceled in those areas throughout his career. He currently leads the team with almost 10 rebounds and a block per game. He is third in scoring with 12 points per game. Chandler is having his best year as a pro. What a concept for a newly acquired Knicks player?
But his value to the Knicks goes beyond individual statistics. Chandler has impacted the entire team. The Knicks are now an above average defensive team, giving up just 94 points per game. They have improved their rebounding differential by three points.
While all the attention continues to goes to Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, Chandler quietly gets the job done. He is the heart and soul of the Knicks. He defends and rebounds with pride. He secures the paint. He demands defensive commitment from his teammates. He shows tremendous leadership. Most of all, he plays extremely hard every minute he is on the court. And he has not missed a single game this season.
They say you can find a point guard. After several attempts, the Knicks may have found theirs in Jeremy Lin. But it is not often you find a 7'1" center who can play the game the way Chandler does. His strength, athleticism and great attitude make him the complete player. Players like Chandler do not come along often. Now the Knicks have their center, for years to come.
More from Edwin Torres:
Edwin Torres was born in New York City. He has been a Knicks fan since the early 1980s. He has visited Madison Square Garden on many occasions to watch the Knicks and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing. For more articles, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.
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