Tyson Chandler is the greatest center in Dallas Mavericks history. Period. End of discussion. With names such as Eric Montross, Uwe Blab, Bill Wennington, Lorenzo Williams, DeSagana Diop, Shawn Bradley and James Donaldson, the competition was not what you'd call elite. In fact, the second best center in Mavs history, Brendan Haywood, is also on the current roster. But none of that diminishes his value to this Mavs franchise.
Chandler, the second overall pick in the 2001 draft, is in his 10th NBA season out of Domingeuz High School in Compton. He came to Dallas via an off-season trade that sent Erick Dampier to the Charlotte Bobcats, and Chandler has been a solid locker room presence all season for the Mavs. While he has added some much-needed toughness inside for the Mavs, Chandler has always been one the NBA's "Good Guys." The Sporting News has listed him in their section of "Good Guys." While playing for the New Orleans Hornets, he established "Rebound to Rebound," in which he donated money for each rebound to help rebuild houses for teachers who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.
Part of what has made Chandler a fan favorite in DFW, has been his accessibility. He is also one of the more entertaining celebrities to follow on Twitter @tysonchandler. He was kind enough to sit down with me following a grinding practice at American Airlines Center for a chat ranging from which is the best mall in Dallas to his Valentine's Day strategy and if this is the best team he has ever played on in his NBA career.
JB: You have a pseudo-radio show called "Drive Time," where you call in to the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio on your drive to the arena and take fans behind the scenes. You even let them to hear you sing. Is this something you have done in with all of the teams you have played for?
TC: That is definitely something new. Skin (Jeff 'Skin' Wade) asked me at the beginning of the year if I would be interested in doing a radio segment. So we kind of just went with it.
JB: Could you envision yourself in the media after your playing career is over? ESPN could certainly use a studio guy with some personality as it seems like TNT has the best guys with (Charles) Barkley and (Chris) Webber.
TC: I agree! And I definitely enjoy it, especially the part about talking to people and entertaining and being funny. You never know what the future holds, so I'd say it's a possibility.
JB: This time of year, with all of the 'March Madness' hoopla, do you wish you had tried college ball rather than going directly to the NBA?
TC: I used to think about it when I had friends in college and wondered what it would it have been like, but I'm living out my dream playing in the NBA. I have no regrets.
JB: You have played for the Bulls, Hornets, Bobcats and now the Mavs. Is this the best team you have ever been on?
TC: This is the best and the most fun. And this team has the most potential of any team I have ever played on. There is no limit to what this team can accomplish. We are a group that likes to play together. We all have the same motive and that is to win.
JB: Talk a little about playing for Team USA this past summer.
TC: It is just an incredible honor being able to represent your country. And now I can look through the pictures and my medal and now my ring. It's something I can show my children and tell them stories in the future.
JB: Do you have a favorite place to hang out in DFW?
TC: I'm kind of a mall guy. I like people-watching, so I enjoy any kind of promenade or somewhere you can sit outside and enjoy the weather.
JB: Mall guy? Northpark or Galleria?
TC: I go to Northpark for the movies, but if I have my kids, we usually go to the Galleria because of the upstairs entertainment area and the ice-skating rink.
JB: Do you have a favorite vacation spot in the off-season?
TC: Cabo San Lucas. I love to fish and it's great fishing there. Obviously it has great weather and the beach is beautiful.
JB: In the "Day in the Life" segment on Mavs.com, the thing that stuck out to me was the pure genius of your idea to alternate Valentine's Day with your wife, where you take turns on who is in charge of the day. How did you come up with that and do you mind if I use you as a reference to borrow it in the future?
TC: You should definitely use me as your reference. It actually really works out well. I started that because every year you try to come up with something to top yourself and it's not as much fun when you make it into a competition. So I asked my wife if she'd be willing to alternate Valentine's Day. It gives her an opportunity to do some things that she wants. A lot of times as men, we don't necessarily know what women want. When they show you the type of night that they want, it actually gives you an idea of what she likes so you can move forward to the next year. It honestly made it better.
JB: Let's talk a little about an NBA road trip. What is a team flight like? And do you have a favorite city to play in?
TC: On the flight, I take a lot of the time to read and sometimes just relax and watch a movie or play cards with the guys. Depending on my mood, I may just sleep. As far as the cities, I like LA, New York and Miami. Those trips definitely stand out.
JB: Do you have a favorite arena to play in? And which arena has the best food spread?
TC: Madison Square Garden (New York City) with all of its history. And I will say the Staples Center (Los Angeles) has the very best chicken strips. If you are ever at a Lakers or Clippers game, get the chicken strips.
JB: Who is the person in life that you most admire and why?
TC: In life period, I would have to say Jesus Christ. In this life, my grandfather from just what he was able to accomplish. He came from Arkansas to California with his young boys and built his own house. And he worked while doing it all. He created a level of responsibility as a man for all of the generations.
FOLLOW JAY ON TWITTER @THEFAMOUSJAY