View Full Version : Chandler becomes Bulls' vocal point

11-11-2003, 12:25 AM
Chandler becomes Bulls' vocal point

November 7, 2003
Chicago Sun Times


There are certain things Tyson Chandler can't do, and blending in appears to be the most obvious.

He's just different. Whether it's challenging teammates, taunting opponents or posing for fans, Chandler stands apart in the Bulls' team picture.

And management couldn't be happier.

Take, for instance, the scene Wednesday night on the Bulls' charter flight back from Orlando, Fla. They had just beaten the Magic in a crucial game for team morale, and the players were in the back of the plane listening to music, playing cards and enjoying a much-needed sigh of relief.

Except for Chandler.

"He was in the front of the plane with the coaches watching a tape of the game,'' Bill Cartwright said. "He wanted to see what he was doing wrong because he wants to get better. It was a great thing.''

Some of Chandler's teammates may have thought he was being the coach's pet. And some probably weren't thrilled to hear Chandler say some of the guys quit during embarrassing losses.

And guess what?

"I don't care,'' Chandler said. "I don't care if people hate me or dislike me. Honestly.''

Believe him.

"If I feel I'm doing the right thing, and I feel it's going to better someone in the long run, even myself, I'm going to say it and do whatever I have to do,'' Chandler said.

It's not Chandler's style to be subtle. He picked up a technical foul Wednesday for taunting after a dunk, and he later flexed his biceps at some amused fans.

Who does this guy think he is? He just turned 21 on Oct. 2, and he's only in his third NBA season.

Even last season he made his presence known in the locker room even though Jalen Rose was considered the veteran spokesman.

"I bit my tongue, but I can't really bite my tongue,'' Chandler said. "Once something builds inside me, it's going to come out whether it's negative or positive.

"I've just been that way all my life. This year, I've been more vocal because I think it was needed. Some people react on that, and some hate to see their name in the paper and see criticism.''

Chandler critiques himself as harshly as he judges others, but the reason he can get away with verbally lashing at older teammates is simple.

"He backs it up on the court,'' Donyell Marshall said. "That's why everybody respects him.

"He's been talking, but he's been backing it up. And we need that because we're kind of a quiet team, even our veterans.''

After flashing potential last season, Chandler is continuing his evolution into one of the league's top young stars. He's averaging 15.5 points and the same number of rebounds. Entering action Thursday, his 15.5 rebounds ranked as the second-highest average in the league, behind Golden State's Erick Dampier at 17.0. Chandler's 2.25 blocks per game was tied for 15th.

"Tyson brings the energy,'' Cartwright said. "He really has distinguished himself.

"If you watch him, you notice he plays every play out. A play is never done until its full completion. That's what we have to get the other guys to realize.''

The only problem with Chandler's frenetic style is he can't afford any more damage to his lower back. He recently was taking eight pills a day to deal with the pain, although that number has decreased.

"It's a struggle,'' Chandler admitted. "It aches all the time. It's not a spasm here or there. It's constantly there.

"It hurts no matter what you do -- when you tie your shoes, when you sneeze, when you cough, when you pee. It hurts when I'm playing, but I block it out.''

Chandler said the condition is improving. But at 7-1, 235 pounds, Chandler is slender compared with many NBA post players, who like to defend with a forearm to the back.

"All the doctors I talked to said it's minor and will pass,'' Chandler said. "And after these last few games, I'm recovering a little more quickly. I'm feeling 10 times better. And Coach is really helping by taking it easy on me in practice.''

It also helps Chandler to turn himself into Mr. Freeze.

"I ice my back before I go to bed, when I wake up, after practice and before practice,'' he said. "At home, I get the ice out of my refrigerator. I'm running out of zip-lock bags, so if anybody wants to chip in, I'm willing.''

Chandler can afford his own bags. The No. 2 pick in 2001 is making $3.17 million this season, and he's lining himself up for a big extension next summer.

Chandler has come a long way since June 27, 2001, when he was part of a draft-day trade between the Bulls and Clippers for Elton Brand. The popular opinion then was the Bulls were robbed.

But Chandler's not worried about popular opinion.

Just ask him.

11-11-2003, 03:15 PM
Chandler is going to be a star. Hes gonna be a Jermaine O'Neal type of guy.