Tyson Chandler’s defense was apparently not needed in New York, but appreciated in Dallas

Tyson Chandler changed the Mavericks with his defense. It was enough to lead them to a championship. When he arrived in New York, he created a different environment and ethic. His presence changed that team defensively and pushed them to the second seed in the East.

Last year was an unmitigated disaster then. Chandler was often the only player trying to play defense as the Knicks gave up 106.5 points per 100 possession. The Knicks were not a good team. And, for some reason, Chandler took the brunt of that criticism — not the mercurial J.R. Smith or the offensive-minded Carmelo Anthony or any of the other players that were part of that mess in the Big Apple.

One of Phil Jackson’s first moves was to ship Chandler off to Dallas for Jose Calderon (not known for his defense) and Samuel Dalembert. It was a salary-shedding move, but one that made some strategic sense. Chandler is not a triangle center.

Except Jackson gave Chandler the “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Even though Jackson was not in the locker room, and not part of the organization, Jackson called out Chandler’s effort and leadership.

It miffed Tyson Chandler to say the least. With the Knicks coming to Dallas on Wednesday — the Mavericks won 109-102 in overtime. He did not hide his confusion when asked about it before Wednesday’s game:

“I don’t know why they did that. Only they can answer that question. I’ve since then moved on and don’t pay it any much attention, to be honest.”

Chandler had his chance to make his statement. But it goes beyond that.

Mavericks teammates have talked about how important Chandler has been to their start. Chandler is a veteran who can speak up in practices and in film sessions and talk about the team’s defense.

Mark Cuban told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News that Chandler’s impact has been noticeable even early in this season:

He’s been a great impact on the court, off the court. If somebody’s trying to rouse a guy, and the guys aren’t buying it, it’s going to be destructive. Everybody’s got to buy it for it to work. Not every team is ready for that. You don’t point fingers.

Dirk Nowitzki agreed. That might be the most important.

Unlike the Knicks, this Mavericks team has plenty of guys held over from that championship run. And there are plenty of veterans who are hungry for a championship. It might be better for Chandler and his form of leadership.

Better than the Knicks at least.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily