The Death of Chandler’s All-Star Hopes
There’s a strong possibility that Tyson Chandler will not be added to the 2013 All-Star team, a fact that has little do with any injury he may have incurred in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets, and much more to do with the fact that centers are no longer a priority for All-Star voters.
Chandler left the arena on crutches with what he and many other people within the Knicks organization think is more likely a sprain than more serious damage. He’ll get an MRI Thursday to make sure there’s no structural damage, but before the game—before he ever could’ve known he’d hurt himself—Chandler talked about the damage to his chances of finally making an All-Star team.
“Maybe those are the positions they (the league) want to see,” Chandler said in reference to the NBA eliminating the “center” position from the All-Star ballot in favor of a third “frontcourt” player. “Those are the skilled positions. It’s almost like a pickup game; you don’t chose the positions that are exciting, for a lack of better word.
“It’s definitely a case,” he added,” because there are only a few true centers in the league.”
And admittedly, center is far from the most exciting position on the floor. These are not typically the most athletic guys in the league, so they’re not normally throwing down windmill dunks, and they certainly aren’t knocking down threes at the end of exciting games.
These guys are bruising, throwing ‘bows and grinding for boards, which is not necessarily what fans want to see at the exciting midseason exhibition between East and West.
Despite all that, Chandler really doesn’t seem as concerned about his All-Star opportunities as fans and media are.
“I honestly don’t really care much about that to be honest with you,” he said. “My focus is during the regular season and goals of winning our division and making it deep to the playoffs and making a real championship run. What happens in February, I could care less at this point.”
Of course, he then joked, “I may be asking for your votes later on.”
With so many talented forwards in the Eastern Conference, however, including LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and his own teammates Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire—not to mention other talented big men like Andrew Bynum, Greg Monroe, and Roy Hibbert—it doesn’t seem likely that Chandler finds his way in.
Dropping centers from the ballot shouldn’t necessarily be read as a shift in the way the game is being played, though; it’s more a ploy to get the most popular players into the game without having to force in a Jamaal Magloire every other year.
As Chandler explains, the position of center is just as important in today’s NBA as it ever has been.
“I understand my position on the team, how valuable I am and what I can accomplish on the court as far as helping my team win basketball games,” he said. “When you have a center, you are more likely to win. There’s a good one on this side, a couple over on the west.
“They don’t make seven footers like they use to,” he added, “but there are still a couple around.”
Chandler himself is one of them, even if the All-Star ballot’s new format probably won’t allow for him to be recognized as an All-Star, at least not as a center. To get in now, he’ll have to prove himself against all Eastern Conference frontcourt players, but that’s something he was planning on doing anyway.