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Tyson Chandler Learns The Value
Of Work In The NBA--(Dec. 12, 2001)

When Tyson Chandler left Dominguez HS last June, most of us who had watched him developed were holding our collective breath, wondering just how he would survive in the tough world of the NBA.  A lot of us feared that he hadn't been pushed hard enough in high school, that things had come too easy to him playing against smaller, younger kids, and that he hadn't filled out his frame enough to survive the pounding and punishment that 25-35 year old men can hand out in the league night after night.

Many have said that Tyson Chandler jumped to the league too soon, that he wouldn't get enough playing time as a pro, and that despite his guaranteed contract, that he'd be a three-year wonder, in and out of the league with little to show for it once the contract was up.  Some feared that he'd never develop into a true NBA player, and that he would have wasted his college eligibility on the quick buck.   Others joined the chorus, saying he should have gone to college instead, played at UCLA (which was the school he told everyone he would attend had he elected college over the NBA). 

Yadda-yadda-yadda. Blah, blah, blah.

The reality though, is that Tyson made the move that made sense for him, and he's making the best of it.  Not an immediate superstar like Kobe.   Far from it.  But today's edition of the Chicago Tribune carried a very interesting article on Tyson, and it seems he's getting some time and making improvements in his game.  Check this out:

Chandler raises energy level
Rookie learning value of off-court commitment

By K.C. Johnson
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 13, 2001

During an exhibition game in Toronto, Bulls rookie Tyson Chandler had just checked in when he found himself with the ball on the wing and Vince Carter crouching in front of him.

Chandler's excitement was palpable as he dribbled, blew past Carter with a move and hoisted a shot . . . that Antonio Davis smacked into another province.

After the game Chandler smiled when asked about the sequence of events.

"I'm going to get my shot blocked and I'm going to get thrown around," he said then. "But I'm going to keep coming and I'm going to take it to you. Next time I won't get my shot blocked. Next time I'm going to dunk it."

Fast forward to Tuesday night.

Chandler sat for the first 34 minutes of the Bulls' loss to New Jersey after missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle and a "Did Not Play--Coach's Decision." With 1 minute, 44 seconds left in the third quarter, Chandler got the call.

Over the final 14 minutes Chandler collected season highs in points (eight) and rebounds (five) and also blocked two shots. He ran the court. He dunked. He hit two free throws.

He kept coming. He took it to New Jersey.

At 19, Chandler is a mixture of vim, vigor and vinegar. The rookie is slowly learning to take whatever frustrates him--lack of playing time, a poor outing--and turn that negative energy into positive effort.

That process can range from reading a copy of "Russell Rules"--the Bill Russell book that general manager Jerry Krause gave him on a recent trip--to turning practice into an all-day endeavor.

Chandler is learning that off-the-court commitment can lead to on-the-court entitlement.

"I thought, `You can never work too hard, so I have to put more in,'" Chandler said Wednesday. "Evidently, something wasn't going right. So I started coming a little earlier and staying a little later."

Now Chandler typically arrives at 8:45 a.m. for an 11 a.m. practice. He'll eat breakfast, lift weights and hit the court for shooting, dribbling and running. By the time coaches take the floor, Chandler is loose. When practice ends, Chandler does more.

"I've seen a harder-playing guy, and I'm loving what I'm seeing," said coach Tim Floyd, who uncharacteristically criticized Chandler's work ethic in public recently. "From the Orlando game on, it's been better. That's really encouraging."

Chandler is still averaging just 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 10.9 minutes. But Floyd said Chandler understands that he doesn't need to score to be successful.

"We've had other rookies coming in who feel like that, but he's certainly not one of them," Floyd said. "He understands that he has to be a high-energy guy to be productive and that he can help us in different ways."

Chandler appreciates the coach's confidence.

"[Floyd] came up to me in practice and told me that he felt good about me coming in early and working hard," Chandler said. "For me to hear that from him, it helps."

The next step for Chandler is minutes in meaningful stretches. Much of his playing time has come at the end of blowouts.

"The more I produce in those situations, eventually I'll work my way into getting some minutes early," Chandler said.

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