Tyson Chandler Finals interview before Game 5
The Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are tied 2-2 in the 2011 NBA Finals. Here's what Mavs center Tyson Chandler had to say between Finals games 4 and 5:
Question: After all you've been through over the last few years with the injuries and all the ups and downs, talk about how rewarding it is to be able to play at this level, at the level you're playing at and what's made you so effective now, aside from obviously being healthy?
Tyson Chandler: It's been a tough couple of years for me. I remember coming off surgery and just really asking myself what is this all about, and not knowing the future and not knowing my capabilities on the court, how effective I would be. So going through all of that, going through rehab, going through last year, it's amazing to be here. And it's important that, you know, you seize the moment, you take advantage of this opportunity, because I've been on the other end and looking like it would never happen.
Question: Tyson, yesterday I know you said that when you heard Dirk was sick that you knew you had to step up. How much concern did you actually have? And then again today, when you got to the arena, how quickly did you try to figure out how he was feeling and whether he was better or not?
Chandler: I had big concerns just because they said he was under the weather, but when I saw him, I really knew he was under the weather. Dirk, you guys all don't know his personality, but Dirk is a playful guy and outgoing and outspoken when it comes to the locker room. Seeing him not being playful and not really saying much and kind of sitting in his locker, I knew it was going to be a tough night for him.
And then today the concerns just go more so as a teammate and a friend, wanting to know about his health. Because he's out there, he's battling. You want to make sure he's all right.
Question: The last couple of series before this one we saw LeBron James just take over fourth quarters, finish teams off, Chicago and then Boston. How aware are you guys, how much are you bracing for it and how surprised are you when you don't see that coming the last couple of games?
Chandler: We're definitely aware of him on the floor. He's one of the top players in the game. So we're always going to be concentrating on him. No matter how many points he has going to the fourth quarter, he's always a dangerous player.
But we more so concentrate on who has the momentum from the three guys. Wade has been kind of a guy we've had to try to slow down and contain. Each game kind of varies.
Question: Watching the highlights, you're seeing it over and over LeBron sitting there in the corner out in the perimeter, kind of not engaged. Is that surprising to see of him? And is there anything you think that maybe you guys have done that's kind of kept him out? Or is it just what Miami is running?
Chandler: No, I think it's a different situation for him. They have three players that can get their own shot and create their shot. So it just seems like they take turns. If a guy has it going, they continue to feed him. And Wade has had it going for the most part game by game. So I think it's just a situation where you just got three great players, and they just kind of pick your poison.
Question: There's a point in the game last night when you grabbed your back. I know you had some back issues late in the season. How is your back? And also, you guys are a little bit older than the Heat and you're showing some kind of some nicks and bruises. I wonder if you worry at all that you guys are kind of edging towards the "E" on the gas tank there?
Chandler: No, not at all. I've been banged up throughout the season. I think every player has been. It's really just exhaustion when you get out there and you get hit. It seems like things hurt a little more than normal, because the intensity level is so high right now.
So it's just all those little things playing into it.
Question: You guys have done such a good job, Tyson, throughout these playoffs of making the big comebacks. Can you talk about what the collective mindset is when you know you have to make that big push?
Chandler: It's just a mental focus that we have to come over. They do such a great job during the course of the game of making run after run, wave after wave. So we try to come together, keep our focus and really buckle down. In the fourth quarter we feel like down the home stretch we're one of the best teams at closing out a game. And so that's what we try to do.
Question: Dirk finishes with the left with the bad finger and last night with the fever. Roger Staubach used to be called Captain Comeback. Is Dirk trying to forge his own legacy as a basketball player like that?
Chandler: I hope not. I hope you see less comebacks and we get a lead and keep it throughout the game. I would rather that than continue to go through these nail biters.
Question: Knowing you have Dirk at the end of games certainly helps those comebacks.
Chandler: Yes. Whenever you have a player that goes out and creates his own shot and know you're going to get a good shot with him no matter what the look is. That always helps.