I hate admitting this, but I was staunchly against the Tyson Chandler signing. I’m a cap space snob/hoarder who would rather run out a team of scrappy, over-performing Marcus Landry/Gustavo Ayon types than pay big money for (most) players. So, when the Knicks essentially sold their cap flexibility down the river by signing Tyson Chandler, I lost my mind a little bit. It was that anger that led my to launch this site. If you want a little sample, check out the first post we ever did. I cringe reading the vitriol aimed at Tyson Chandler. I think I owe the man an apology. Please forward to the 3:10 mark of this video to get the vibe I’m going for here.
Now that you’ve been named Defensive Player of the Year (the first in Knicks history), and the center on the All-NBA Third Team, I’d like to take the time to tell you all the ways I was wrong about you, baby. When the Knicks first signed you, and used their amnesty on Chauncey Billups, it scared me. It scared me because he had an expiring contract, and we could have used the cap space to build the team this off-season. It scared me because we would no longer be able to use the amnesty on Amar’e Stoudemire’s uninsurable contract. But mostly, it scared me because it had been so long since I’d seen a bona fide center, I had forgotten what it felt like to have a real man patrolling the paint.
You see, baby, I’ve spent so much time, chasing the wrong kind of centers. Fatties, guys who couldn’t protect us, scumbags who just used us for our money, and then some more fatties (yes, that’s Mike Sweetney). I had just given up. That’s why I was skeptical at first. I know I said you were a “limited player” and that your value as a center was just the “narrative du jour.” And I’m so sorry. Can you please forgive me? I had just been knocked around and played for the fool so many times, I could only see the bad in players the Knicks signed. I thought by looking for the negatives in a player, I wouldn’t be hurt when that player let me down. “You knew it all along, Mike,” I’d tell myself. And I’d pretend like I had steeled myself against the inevitable sinking feeling I’d get every time I saw the name on Hoopshype with a bloated salary that extended far into the future. But deep down each time would pain me more than the next, and the wound festered and calloused and then finally healed over into a hideous disfiguring emotional scar.
And then there you were. Standing a legitimate seven feet tall and blithely polishing your brand-new championship ring, and all I could think is “this one is going to rip my heart still-beating out of my chest, if I let him.” So, I made it my mission not to let you, but you wouldn’t let that happen. With each rebound in traffic, with each blocked shot, with each driving guard who thought better about attacking the rim when you were there, with each shrilly barked defensive order, my icy demeanor melted. Finally, the day came, when you stroked your scraggly beard, held your head up, puffed your chest out, and proclaimed “I refuse to have a losing season.” It was music to my ears, and I’ll admit to getting a little weak in the knees when I read it. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. But the best part had yet to come. I knew this was the real thing when you backed up your words; the team went 29-17 after that fateful day and you propelled the ‘Bockers into the top half of the league in opponents’ points per game and field goal percentage (they had been in the the bottom 5 in both categories before you swept into our lives).
Since then, I’ve been head over heels for you. But I can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt for the way I treated you when we first met. That is why I had to write you this letter. I’m sorry, Tyson Cleotis Chandler. You’re the best thing that’s happened to this franchise since this Anthony Mason haircut. I was wrong, and this is oh-so-right.
Your converted fan,