During the Dallas Mavericks‘ NBA title run back in 2011, Dirk Nowitzki admitted that the Mavericks had been soft. That was the general reputation before Dallas finally won an NBA championship that season. When they blew a big lead and lost a heartbreaking Game 4 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs that season, just about every expert on TV said it was the ‘same old’ Dallas and this ‘soft’ team was, of course, expected to gutlessly bow out early in the fight once again.
But, as Nowitzki pointed out back then, the Mavericks’ lack of mental toughness was not tolerated by Tyson Chandler. Upon arrival, Chandler made it clear he was not going to stand for the ‘softy’ mentality that the Mavericks had exhibited. Forget about what he meant to Dallas in terms of his excellent play on the court, it has been his leadership, more than anything, that the Mavericks have been missing since his departure for New York three years ago.
As the Mavericks get set to play the New York Knicks (Chandler’s current team) at home tonight, the team is more than ever reminded of all the intangibles Chandler brought to the dinner table. In back-to-back years, the Mavericks have attempted to piece together a three-headed monster at the center position, hoping that maybe all three of these guys will form like Voltron to be one Chandler.
Neither Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright nor DeJuan Blair have the sort of leadership, let alone skill set, that Chandler brought to that dinner table. It was only after the fact three years ago that the Mavericks admitted to having been soft. Likewise, Dallas will not admit it now, in spite of the continual defensive self-destruction which has plagued the team at the end of games this season.
The Mavericks are obviously not getting Chandler back, as James Dolan has made it clear there will be no roster changes with the Knicks this season. But the Mavericks need someone like Chandler if they want to once again feast at the dinner table like they did back in 2011.
Michel Pedroso is a Dallas Mavericks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Miotch_Report, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your Google Network.