The Knicks haven't even tipped off their regular season yet, and Landry Fields and Amare Stoudemire are the only players in the starting five remaining from last season's opening night. Now they're both surrounded by another All-Star (Carmelo Anthony) and an NBA champion Tyson Chandler).
Come February, Fields and Stoudemire will likely be playing alongside a third All-Star, Baron Davis. For both players, the Knicks and all the fans, they'll have to make sure to say a small thank you to Chandler for B-Diddy's arrival.
That compliment goes back to the late 1990s, when Chandler and Davis became teenage friends while they were playing ball in the Los Angeles area. Chandler was a freshman at Dominguez HS; Davis was a freshman at UCLA. Chandler looked up to Davis for guidance, as he was groomed into a 2011 McDonald's All-American and a first-round pick right out of high school that year.
"I would stay over his house. I would go down to his dorm, stay with him and work out with him," Chandler said. "So he kind of played big brother to me when I was coming up. He just always advised me to keep working. We never put a timeline on when I was going to come out [in the draft]. It was always important that I was in the gym and staying focused."
Just a few days ago, Chandler and Davis reversed roles, with the former student this time providing the guidance. Chandler knew Davis was in the running to come to New York, so he placed a phone call and offered some encouraging words.
"I talked to him before everything went through," Chandler said. "I said, 'Look, man, if we get an opportunity to get you, I would love to have you here. You can definitely help us.' We went back and forth, and next thing I know, I was like, 'I'll see you tomorrow'."
Chandler is not worried about the Knicks now having three All-Stars, saying that "when you're playing around talented players that understand the game, it makes life real easy." That understanding will have to mean Davis adjusting his game to prevent offense overload and making it easier on Anthony and Stoudemire to score from their hot zones. Chandler said that with Davis' "great basketball IQ," that won't be a problem and the veteran two-time All-Star will make the right plays.
Chandler is excited to finally team up with his longtime friend, whom he calls "one of the biggest guards in the league," and believes New York is the best fit for Davis. Just like it was for himself.
"In this league sometimes it goes like that; you never know what your journey is going to be," Chandler said. "I'm glad to have him here. I came here myself in free agency with one goal and expectations. I feel like he's coming here for the same thing. To me, it's the perfect timing for his career."
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