One of the more surprising revelations this NBA season is the conversation that took place between Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
Chandler, respected as a tireless worker in his 12-year career received a motivational message from his signal caller just days after earning a spot in the 2013 All-Star game.
“Throughout the season, mentally, he lit a fire under me. He called me into his office and said I needed to start playing like an All-Star and the last thing I wanted was people questioning that. I had focus after that. Sometimes you need that…a little push,” Chandler admitted.
The 7-footer responded in a big way by recording 20-plus rebounds in three consecutive games. Chandler’s dominance on the glass is the longest streak by a Knick since Willis Reed in the 1969-70 season.
“I just wanted him to be complete,” Woodson explained in his postgame press conference after the Knicks notched their fifth straight win at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Woodson added, “I didn’t think he was playing complete basketball. He was taking possessions off, he wasn’t moving the pace offensively, and he wasn’t getting it done in terms of rebounding the basketball. You can’t be an All-Star in this league and not play like it. He’s been voted an All-Star and he deserves to be an All-Star, so hey, it’s my job to point it out that’s how he’s got to play.”
Chandler is on track for a banner calendar year. The big man captured a gold medal this past summer next to teammate and MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony, he was named to his first All-Star game, and the California native is considered one of the contenders for another Defensive Player of the Year award. Aside from the individual accolades, Chandler is the anchor in the paint for a New York team at the top of the Atlantic Division and on the heels of the Miami Heat for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.
As the Knicks look to close strong heading into the All-Star break, Chandler is averaging 10.2 points, 14 rebounds, and one block over his last five games. He’s also finding success above the rim on momentum changing alley-oops while shooting an incredible 65.7 percent from the floor.
“Ever since he and I sat down and talked, he’s trying to do all the necessary things to help you win and rebounding is one big part of it,” Woodson stated.
Chandler is an essential piece to New York’s title aspirations but Woodson proved that even his All-Star leader and performer needed a spark to light his fire.