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Mavs' Tyson Chandler is Out to Prove He is the Real Deal

Tyson Chandler has been called a lot of things over the past few weeks; a surprise, a spark, the heart and soul of the team/defense, the perfect center for Carlisle's philosophy on defense.  When Mavericks Owner, Mark Cuban attributes "60 to 70 percent" of the defensive turnaround to Chandler's arrival, you've got a player who makes the DUST-Chip look like a chip that was well-spent.

One of the first things people comment on when they talk about Chandler is his energy.  That energy comes from a willingness to do whatever to make the team better and the sole desire to win.  The energy can be seen  when he is in the game, during timeouts when he's motivating players and on the bench as he supports his teammates. 

"Tyson is a monster in the middle," said Shawn Marion.  "He's just making himself felt in there, regardless of how he's attacking the basket or how he's attacking rebounds and we hear him out've gotta love that.  When you've got your big man making noise and making a raucous in the paint it's really affective for us." 

Chandler is making a lot of noise and the fans are making a lot of noise in his direction.  If you go to a Mavericks home game, you get the feeling that when Chandler's name is announced in the starting lineup the crowd roars louder and louder as the games go by.  Needless to say, he's climbing up the list of fan-favorite Mavericks as fast as Chandler can throw down an alley-oop dunk.

With that strong sense of noise, it seems like Jason Terry has a tag-team partner in the energy department.  "It's tremendous," said Terry when mentioning Chandler's energy and what it means to the team.  "For five or six years, I was pretty much the only energy out there.  He's out there pumping up the crowd, he's energizing, he's talking, he's very vocal and he's a big part of our success right now."

The Mavericks have started out really strong but the difference this year has been a new mindset towards the defensive end of the floor and over nearly 20 games, the team looks like it's hitting a nice groove.  Even though it's a process, improvements can be noticed.  "We're trying to understand each other, trying to find our spots and now everything is starting to come together," Chandler said in regards to where the team started and where it's at right now.  "(Momentum) has been building on defense," said Dirk Nowitzki.  "Tyson has been amazing, we all see that in the numbers he's putting up and the energy he has giving us." 

For a player that's had to deal with adjusting to a new team, the transition has been almost seamless.  Chandler attributes that to the overall approach the team has.  "(The team) is just so unselfish.  When you've got a guy like Jason Kidd who is so incredibly unselfish and a hall-of-famer, he makes thing easy," said Chandler.  "He gets me in a rhythm.  He understands everybody, he understands everybody's game so he makes it a point to get me comfortable out on the floor on the offensive end, I'm always going to be comfortable on the defensive end." 

Chandler has had to endure the injury bug during his career, especially over the last few seasons.  He missed a total of 68 games over the last two seasons between New Orleans and Charlotte.  "I am a very competitive guy and it's tough to not be 100% and give your team what you feel like your capable of giving them," said Chandler when talking about injuries that have plagued him.  "Not only that, it's tough to sit back and watch your team lose and watch everybody come down on you."

Pressure might have been another issue getting in the way of his overall health, "A lot of people don't realize last year (in Charlotte), I was only a couple of months out of surgery when the season started," said Chandler.  "It was a pride thing.  Just getting traded (from New Orleans) and wanting to get out there, wanting to show everyone 'Hey, I'm fine' and I wasn't.  I probably should have took a little more time off but I battled through the season with nick-nack injuries." 

Chandler made sure to learn from the mistake and take a new approach.  "This summer, I said as soon as the season is over, I'm getting in the gym and rehabbing and doing everything that I need to do to make so I can be 100% and I did so," the Mavericks center said.  "As soon as the season was over, I took one week off and I've been training ever since."  The results paid off by making the USA National Team and being a part of the Gold Medal team during the FIBA World Championships.  The health stayed true and he was able to continue working out and the results are clearly paying off now.

The results could pay off in the form of being named to the All-Star team, something Chandler has never accomplished. "That's been my goal since I came into the league," said Chandler when speaking about the idea of making an All-Star team.  "I felt one year, I came really close to doing it and I was disappointed when I didn't.  This year, I may have an opportunity and it's definitely something that's always a great individual achievement."  The quirk of this situation is Chandler isn't even on the All-Star ballot.  The 120 players on the ballot were selected by a panel of media who regularly cover the NBA.  The ballot is made before the season starts and the assumption was that Brendan Haywood would be the starting center and Chandler would be the backup, things have obviously changed.  Yao Ming is likely going to be nominated as a starter due to the fan voting in China.  There are talented players at the position, but many people in the NBA believe Chandler has emerged as a surprising factor for the Mavericks and players and coaches tend to reward that work with a bench selection.

The team is essentially the same as it was last year, now with Chandler.  With that addition, the Mavericks are now a defensive-minded team and the results could pay off huge when it comes down to playoff time.  With all of the success and strong health that Chandler has been showing, an elephant is slowly creeping into the room and that's the situation regarding his contract status.  The energetic center will be a free agent going into next season.  One thing needs to be noted, the Mavericks have his Bird's Rights.  So if the new collective bargaining agreement keeps that factor in tact, the Mavericks will have total control in the situation.  At one point, Chandler believed he would be a Hornet for life but he was ultimately moved in a salary dump move.  "You never know in this league," said Chandler.  "The only thing I can do is come and give my teammates everything I have and try to give us an opportunity to win every night."

"I love it here," said the soon-to-be free agent.  "I am in the moment, I love this city.  My family has already adapted and we all appreciate everyone here and everything everybody has done for me in the organization is obviously incredible.  I love my teammates, that's so far in the future we'll just let that be that."

Despite the uncertainty of his future, he can envision himself staying with the Mavericks.  "I love everything about (Dallas), the character in this locker is incredible," said Chandler.  "They did an excellent job of choosing the guys they wanted to build this team around and the city is second to none."  Mavericks fans had hoped the DUST-Chip would net them LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Paul.  The chip landed them a player than has turned out to be better than anyone had envisioned.  The potential potholes in the future should be ignored now and dealt with when the time comes.  For now, the Mavericks have some to prove and Chandler is leading the charge.