The Knicks’ Tyson Chandler had two notable achievements this season: He was named Defensive Player of the Year and he had the third highest field goal percentage ever. Each of these distinctions relate to different parts of the game — and opposite ends of the court, to boot — but they are both pretty clearly the result of a single core attribute. Namely, Tyson Chandler works really hard, all the time.
I imagine that Chandler studies defensive sets and opposing players’ tendencies and that there’s lots going on that is invisible to me as a lay-fan but one thing that I don’t have to imagine and that is not invisible is the effort he puts in on defense. I don’t know technical terms — he seems to shuffle his feet well and doesn’t get fixated on the ball — but, in general, he’s the kind of energetic guy who, at the risk of cliche, makes a team function. I’ve worked with and been on teams with people like that and it’s fun to be on their side.
His field-goal achievement is also function of this hard work insofar as the vast majority of his shots always seem to be within a few feet of the basket. He is probably not above average in his ability to make lay-ups and slam-dunks, he just gets a lot of those opportunities (and doesn’t bother taking shots he’s not good at). The point, of course, is that he gets those shots not by luck or hanging around by working to be in a position to take them. Again, a lot of hard work.
As with complaining about calls, I never noticed until my Linsanity-inspired basketball renaissance just how hard these guys work and how brutally they slam fight for every inch and angle. When the announcers say that the guys are ‘battling on the blocks’ they’re not just using hack-y martial imagery. They are fighting and, as I learned from my wrestling days, winning a fight takes everything you’ve got.
Tyson Chandler is a gentleman warrior.