Leadership in the Locker Room

Jonah Ballow


While seated in the visitors’ locker room in Houston, feet entrenched in a bucket of ice; Tyson Chandler refused to accept the current state of the Knicks season. It’s the same type of mindset that prevents the seven-footer from feeling the blistering cold water on his legs following a 14-point, 11-rebound performance against the Rockets.

“I refuse. I refuse to have a losing season like that. We have to do what it takes, I don’t care what is, I really don’t. Like I said, we have to man-up,” an emotional Chandler expressed.

After the fourth game in five nights, the team boarded a plane back to New York but the strong voices were loud and clear in South Texas. The acquisition of Chandler prior to the start of the season meant more than just adding one of the premier defensive centers in the league. The Knicks locker room was immediately injected with a high-character man that answers all the tough media questions directly after wins and losses.

The 29-year old speaks from a wealth of experience and is making no excuses, “We all need to take a look at ourselves and figure out what we can do better to help the team.”

In a truncated season, each NBA team has little or no time for traditional practices, which opens the door for injuries, fatigue, and unpredictable outcomes. This Knicks squad is connected in the locker room and willing to take the criticism while always looking for ways to improve. Chandler is joined by his frontcourt mate, Amar’e Stoudemire in delivering the important messages to the young players on a daily basis.

“It’s a matter of us staying together – staying positive but also being hard on ourselves on how to get over this hump and how to get better,“ Stoudemire explained.

In the midst of hard times, the Knicks are filled with the right chemistry for a team in search of postseason success. With Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in-and-out of the lineup and Baron Davis on hold due to the rehab process, the complete New York team has yet to crystallize.

The All-Star power forward is shifting the focus internally in order for a quick turnaround to take place, “We have to prepare ourselves better as individuals. The coaching staff gives us a gameplan, we have to be prepared to execute the gameplan. If we are not ready to execute that gameplan, we are not helping our teammates. We have to be ready to play every single night and no nights off.”

At a crucial point in the Knicks season, the stars of the team are displaying the leadership one would expect from the high profile players. As Chandler stepped out of the ice bucket on Saturday night, the hope is his team will adhere to the direction from a world champion and begin to heat up with a refusal to lose.

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