The Dallas Mavericks went against conventional thinking after winning the 2011 NBA championship.
Success usually leads to teams doing all they can to keep the championship group together for one more run at a title.
That didn’t happen in Dallas, as one of the most important pieces of the championship team, Tyson Chandler, was a New York Knick after agreeing to a four-year deal as part of a sign-and-trade.
But in sports, it’s not impossible to break up only to make up later, which happened before this season when the Mavericks reacquired Chandler from the Knicks.
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The Mavericks missed the defensive presence and energy Chandler had brought them. Chandler missed the opportunity to be on a team that could compete for a championship, which he’s found in his return.
Chandler won the 2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year honor with the Knicks and was an All-Star in 2013, but last season New York struggled and is in a rebuilding phase this season.
“It’s great to be back in an organization with familiar faces and have a chance to really compete at a high level and go after a championship,” Chandler said. “I enjoyed my time in New York and played alongside some great players. I thought we definitely could have done more than we did, but I still enjoyed the experience.”
The Mavericks have made moves along with bringing Chandler back to put themselves back in contention to win a championship. Chandler Parsons was signed as a free agent and point guard Rajon Rondo was acquired via trade.
But trading for Chandler might be the most important move in the postseason, when the Mavericks need an anchor defensively against the many talented big men in the Western Conference.
“(Chandler is doing) what he does,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. “Defend, run the floor, play above the rim, give us energy, be a traffic cop on defense, be a great locker room guy. He’s doing all that stuff.”
Carlisle is one of the holdovers from the championship squad. Dirk Nowitzki is still around, and the Mavericks brought back backup point guard J.J. Barea. Chandler said that made it “easier” to get back in the groove with the Mavs, even though it takes time for a new team to jell.
“When we got J.J. back, (and) guys that you go to battle with night in and night out, and when you achieve the ultimate high of winning a championship, it’s like you have a bond forever,” Chandler said. “So there’s a trust factor there, between Dirk, myself, coach, J.J., to say we’ve won a championship together. So we know that person knows how to win and what it takes to win.”
The Mavericks entered Saturday sixth in the Western Conference, seven games out of the top spot in the West and 11/2 games out of the fourth seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Chandler said becoming a championship team is a process and he believes Dallas can become that kind of team.
“I definitely think this group does” have championship traits, Chandler said. “In training camp, I felt that way, and with the addition of Rondo, some more winning pedigree, I feel like it took us to another level. Now it’s all about adjusting and understanding how to play our style of basketball. It takes a little while.”
Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving was the media’s whipping boy earlier in the season. He had his struggles, namely not notching a lot of assists, and he was poised to be blamed for any issues on the court for the Cavaliers.
Lately, Irving has been the talk of Cleveland again, but for all the right reasons.
The Cavs entered Saturday on a nine-game winning streak and Irving has been a star.
Irving is averaging 27.6 points, shooting 53.6 percent from the field, including 54.8 percent (34 of 62) from three-point range, 5.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds and two steals during the winning streak.
It appears Jacque Vaughn’s days as coach of the Orlando Magic are coming to an end with the news media reporting that his firing is imminent as Orlando struggles this season.
The Magic is 15-34 and on a seven-game losing streak. Orlando is a woeful 5-16 at home.
It’s hard to get fans out to the fancy arena when that’s the case.
“I’m really trying to get my ‘NBA 2K’ rating up.” – Miami center (and former King) Hassan Whiteside, in a postgame interview with ABC after posting his first career triple double in a win over Chicago last Sunday. The developers of the video game responded, boosting Whiteside’s rating from 59 to 77 with “eraser” ability, meaning he is a good shot blocker.