A few years ago, Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler and forward Peja Stojakovic considered their current employers among their enemies and rivals as a part of an exciting young New Orleans Hornets team destined for postseason success.
A few trades, waivings and free agent signings later, the pair now sporting a new shade of blue and represent the Dallas mavericks in the NBA Finals.
In 2008, Chandler, Stojakovic and the Hornets took the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals, extending the series and giving the defending Champions all they could before coming up short in the last game.
The next year, the Hornets were picked among favorites in the Western Conference and many even considered them Finals contenders.
Unfortunately game seven against the Spurs the previous year was as far as the Hornets would get, but for Chandler and Stojakovic, they are finally realizing their potential, albeit in a different Southwest Division city.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s John Reid recently wrote about the journey the former Hornets took to get where they are now.
Since last November, ex-New Orleans Hornets forward Peja Stojakovic has endured getting benched, being traded and then waived after having his contract bought out.
In what appeared to be a tumultuous season for the 13-year veteran has now turned into nothing less than remarkable. He has landed back on his feet with the Dallas Mavericks. Stojakovic is just three wins from winning his first NBA championship after the Mavericks’ 95-93 victory against the Miami Heat.
This is now Peja’s third team in one year, and he appears to have found a home and is making an impact in the playoffs, something many thought was not possible after several postseason flame outs in his NBA career.
In the playoffs, he is currently averaging 7.8 points per game and shooting 40 percent from the field.
Against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, Stojakovic scored in double figures in three of the four games in the second round sweep. His six three-pointers in game four helped put the Lakers away for good.
Chandler also went through his share of injuries and it took him two trades and one rescinded trade to land in the right system and environment.
“It’s huge to be a situation like this,’’ Chandler said about playing in his first NBA Finals. “This is what you play for. I still think about how C.P. (Chris Paul) and David West and what we were building in New Orleans but management wasn’t willing to strive for greatness. With the Mavericks, it’s all about winning and getting the necessary pieces.’’
Since arriving in “Big D,” Chandler has averaged 10 points, 9.4 rebounds and one block per game in only 27 minutes of playing time.
In Dallas’ pivotal win in game two against the Heat, Chandler contributed to the victory with 13 points. seven rebounds and one steal.
Asiide from what showed up on the box score in game two, with a minute to go and the game tied at 90, Chandler devised a plan to set a screen for one of Dallas’ shooters to get open. That open shooter was none other than Dirk Nowitzki, who hit a three-pointer to take a 93-90 lead in the game with 26.7 seconds remaining. Udonis Haslem never knew what hit him.
Chandler and Stojakovic will put on their home whites tonight and the Mavericks will need their help to secure a game three win at 8 p.m. EST tonight. It’ll just be another long stride in their journey to win an NBA championship.
This time with “DALLAS” emblazoned across their jerseys.