This year’s big addition to the North Texas football scene? The Super Bowl.
This year’s big addition to the North Texas basketball scene? Tyson Chandler.
In this exclusive visit, the 7-1 Chandler, in his first season in Dallas after a summer trade that brought him from Charlotte, his nickname (or lack thereof), his favorite food, his weird diaper-wearing Twitter picture and his status on the Mavs as “the other German”.
Mike Fisher: Let’s begin with the revelation that Dirk Nowitzki isn’t the only German guy on the Mavericks roster …
Chandler: “That’s right! My grandmother, Granny Chandler, she’s German. … She lives in Sacramento. I don’t really know anybody else on that side of the family very well, and I don’t know all the heritage. But she’s my favorite German person. And Dirk’s in second place. He’s got that locked down.’’
Fish: I assume Dirk knows about this and given his sense of humor, and yours that you guys have had some fun with it?
Chandler: “Oh, yeah. That’s why I tell him, ‘You are my second favorite German. Behind Granny Chandler.’ Sometimes when we’re in a room together, or the first two guys at practice, I say, ‘Nobody here but us Germans.’’’
Fish: You are given great credit for being a vocal leader on a team that has long specialized in “quiet leadership.’’ Jason Terry says you are especially vocal on the road, when you go so far as to playfully tell the opposing crowd, “Shut up!’’ How much of this is your nature, and how much is it you filling a role this team needs?
Chandler: “It’s a combination of both. This team has always had leadership, with Dirk and J-Kidd and those guys. But I’m just trying to have fun with it, and just trying to express my personality. It all works because all the guys fit along. I love these guys; they are all my brothers, my second family.’’
Fish: What’s weird to me though is that for such a great communicator – and playing on a team that has really embraced social media, you’ve kind of let your Twitter account run dry. I know you work on your web site but don’t you think Tyson Chandler on Twitter has some value?
Chandler: “I haven’t updated it in a while, that’s true. I need to get on it!’’
Fish: One thing about your Twitter page, now that we’re directing people there, they are going to see that painting of you as a baby–in a diaper. Um–care to explain?
Chandler: “Here’s the explanation on that picture: I didn’t paint it but I helped design it. It says a lot about me, the person I am and the kid I was growing up. Up top, in my face, I’m all business. But below that, I’m still a kid at heart. That’s what’s being expressed there. So I’m wearing diapers and cowboy boots – and that’s the real deal for me when I was little.’’
“I used to wear cowboy boots everywhere. My mom couldn’t get me out of them. Probably every day, until maybe the age of 6, I wanted to wear cowboy boots. I ran track in ‘em. I played soccer in ‘em. One year we moved and we lost my boots. I couldn’t bear it. My auntie bought me some new ones and I wore them, wore them down, until my feet were almost sticking out the front of them.’’
“I asked for cowboy boots every Christmas. That’s all I wanted.’’
Fish: The good people at ScoreBoardDaily.com and DallasBasketball.com are dying to give you a nickname; it’s what we do when we are bored. Care to help us out? Provide some insight?
Chandler: “Well, my friends have always called me ‘T.Y.’ If your name is ‘Tyson,’ people want to call you ‘Ty.’ So my friends changed it up to ‘T.Y.’ That’s about it.’’
Fish: Yeah, “T.Y’’ doesn’t do much on a t-shirt. And a baby in diapers and cowboy boots probably doesn’t do you any favors. How about other habits– maybe, favorite foods?
Chandler: “I like ‘em all. How about soul food?’’
Fish: Better than that, because Rick Carlisle keeps referring to you as “our heart-and-soul guy,’’ how about something with “Heart-and-Soul Food.’’
Chandler: “There you go! Let’s open a restaurant!’’
Fish: On a couple of serious notes, how special is this season for you now that you are fully healthy after missing 30-plus games each of the last couple of years with foot injuries?
Chandler: “Well, that was very frustrating. It’s difficult to watch your teammates and to not be able to help them. I consider myself a leader, a vocal leader. And when you are out and hurt, you don’t even have a chance to contribute in that way. But here, it’s been satisfying to show what I am capable of. It’s nice to have that stuff behind me, to not worry about it and to be the player I know I can be.’’
Catch the Fish on Twitter at FishSports, at www.DallasBasketball.com <http://www.DallasBasketball.com> and as a TV analyst of the Mavs on FS Southwest