During one recent Dallas Mavericks’ practice, there sat Tyson Chandler. Flanked to his left was Shawn Marion, to hisTyson right was Dirk Nowitzki, and on the court barking orders to his players was coach Jason Kidd.

For historical purposes, that’s four-fifths of the starting lineup the Mavs used in winning Games 4, 5 and 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals when they aggressively finished off LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat and captured their lone NBA title.

From a symbolic standpoint, Chandler brought this up when he looked at the current Mavs while gauging their chances of winning the whole enchilada this season. In comparing the 2010-11 Mavs to the 2022-23 crew, Chandler said:

“The similarities are you’ve got a lot of the faces here that’s done it before, that’s pouring into this new group and building a culture. And that honestly to me is the most important thing that I see is that championship culture that we had, I feel like it’s here now.

“I know it never left, but it’s very present now with all the guys (from the  title team) back and the culture being built. It was always built, but those guys that were there are back. So, that’s the feeling that I feel around the gym.”

Like the Mavs of 2011 did with Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler knows this crop of Mavs are hanging their hats on the extreme talents of superstar point guard Luka Doncic. Nowitzki had that unique ability to put a team on his back and his teammates chipped in here and there. The same can be said about Doncic and his teammates.

“The first time I saw Luka I couldn’t believe how good he was,” Chandler said. “You don’t see a player come in and have that kind of control and pace, and be so cool moving at his own pace and be so effective.

“I’ve seen some great pros come in because I played with a lot of them. Whether it was (Chris Paul), whether it was LeBron (James), whether it was Carmelo (Anthony), they were unbelievable and skilled and athletic. But I don’t know that I’ve seen somebody play with Luka’s pace at such a young age. Now, it’s a little more expected what he does, but every day he still wows me with some Luka Magic that he does.”

TysonLuka Magic and all that it entails will be on full display Wednesday at 9 p.m. when the Mavs open the regular season on the road against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center.

Chandler has no official title with the Mavs, nor is he worried about having one. He’s just a gym rat who doesn’t mind helping out his old teammate – Kidd – and helping out with the G League’s Texas Legends.

“I plan on just figuring things out, to be quite honest,” Chandler said. “I’m just being here, being with the Legends, being in the community and really just trying to occupy my time in a positive place.”

In other words, Chandler bleeds Mavericks’ blue. It’s been a part of his DNA since he first joined the Mavs in 2010 and changed what had been an offensive-minded team into a defensive-minded team.

“I love this city, I love this organization, I love this team,” Chandler said. “It really honestly means something to my heart. When I came here, I felt accepted and it felt like home and family.

“The first time, initially, it’s never felt any different. Now to be at this point in my life and to be able to come back here and be amongst family, it feels great as I’m navigating life after basketball. So, it’s a comfortable place to be, something I’m familiar with as I’m figuring out life.”

As Chandler figures things out, Kidd loves having him around to help with the centers the Mavs have on their roster.

“He’s a champion, he’s a great person and he works extremely hard,” Kidd said. “He came in (to the NBA) as a high school player and he’s seen it all. So, I think it’s another great voice for our bigs to have.”

Chandler has been working with the centers – JaVale McGee and Christian Wood – the Mavs acquired over the offseason. Since he used his 7-foot, 235-pound frame to create havoc in the middle from 2001-2020, he believes he can offer a nice tip or two that can assist McGeeMcGee and Wood along the way.

“I love them and I think they’re going to really help the team,” Chandler said. “I think JaVale, with his rim protection and his rolls to the rim, is a big plus. He plays so high above the rim that I think it’s going to give Luka an outlet, and I think it’ll draw in the defense.

“JaVale’s won three championships now, so he brings a championship leadership here. And he’s been great with his vocal leadership. From the moment he came in, whether it’s the weight room, whether it’s the film room, he’s been really vocal, which is what was needed for this team.”

It’s almost was as if Chandler — he also played for the Mavs during the 2014-15 season — was describing himself when he was handing out bouquets to McGee. That’s because during his playing days in Dallas, Chandler provided the Mavs with some rim protection, was a lob threat and also had acute vocal leadership skills.

“We’re different players, but he definitely is capable of bringing the same rim protection, the same lob threats, and even his leadership,” Chandler said of McGee. “He’s a great locker room dude.”

As far as Wood goes, Chandler is intrigued by his ability to not only stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting, but also by his ability to post up near the rim and pulverize opponents down low.

Tyson“He’s a matchup problem,” Chandler said. “I think C-Wood brings different scoring from the big position.

“I think he’s also going to give a different look and be able to stretch the floor, and I think they’ll both be able to compliment each other by playing with Luka.”

Chandler still looks trim and fit, and he’s only 40 years old. But he doesn’t have any plans of coming out of retirement – like 45-year old Tom Brady did when he re-joined the NFL earlier this year.

“I think the competitive edge will never leave me,” Chandler said. “I don’t think I’m going to be playing any more NBA games, but it’s always going to be in me. It’s fun — even when it’s just halfcourt basketball — keeping myself in shape.”

Mavs governor Mark Cuban had fun when asked about Chandler possibly returning to play again, saying: “Tyson’s been enjoying those cheeseburgers. He doesn’t quite have that Tom Brady discipline that we all wish we had.”

Chandler is part of NBA lore in that he entered the league during the 2001 NBA Draft when three of the top four picks were straight out of high school. Kwame Brown was the No. 1 overall pick, Chandler was second, Pau Gasol was third and Eddy Curry was fourth.

Brown, Chandler and Curry all came directly from high school to the NBA, and that’s the only time that many high school players were drafted that high in the same draft. Chandler admitted he would take the same path if he had anTyson opportunity to do it all over again.

“It’s growing pains with anything in life,” Chandler said. “Who’s to say if I would have gone to college things could have turned out different for me. I could have gotten injured, I could have digressed. Who knows?

“So, I would have never changed it. It was a great learning experience and growing experience for me as a man, a young man, and for me as an athlete. It was just so many things that I accomplished and learned in life going through those experiences.”

Raised in Compton, Calif., and drafted by the Chicago Bulls, Chandler had to grow up fast once he got to the NBA. But he leaned on teammates for sage advice.

“Being away from home, I had Charles Oakley and Scottie Pippen and Greg Anthony help me,’’ Chandler said. “And then each year it was Jalen Rose, it was Antonio Davis and others who were mentors to help me with my growth, and that was invaluable.

“To be able to spend time around those guys, to learn from Scottie Pippen, to learn from Jalen Rose, to learn from Antonio or Oakley, that was invaluable.”

Before joining the NBA, Chandler was able to watch and learn from tennis great Serena Williams, who also was raised in Compton and recently retired from a legendary career.

“We were in Compton playing at the same time,” Chandler said. “She was on the tennis courts and I was on the basketball courts. To be able to watch her play, and then now her storybook career coming to an end, I couldn’t be more proud of the barriers that she broke down.

“The community and people and women and culture she aspired, she just did so much. It was incredible to watch her come in, and it’s incredible to watch her go out. I’m excited for her and the rest of her life.”

TysonChandler is one of a handful of players with a championship ring who averaged more rebounds in their career than points. He was all about the nuts and bolts of the game, all about the dirty work and down in the trenches part of the game that never gets glamorized.

“I was just sacrificing for my team,” said Chandler, who sport career averages of 8.2 points and nine rebounds per game. “For me, I wanted to win, so I wanted to do whatever it takes to win.

“And you can’t win any games without defending and rebounding. So, I did all the things to try to win and now it’s starting to get highlighted, and that’s great.”

That old school knowledge of his is what Chandler doesn’t mind sharing with Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, McGee and Wood and any other Mavs’ big man. It’s why he spends his time lending a helping hand to Kidd and his coaching staff.

“I look at Tyson as a younger brother and someone who’s been successful in this league, and I think has a great temperament to coach and wants to coach,” Kidd said. “So, why not have him around?

“He’s won, he’s part of the Mavs’ family, so it helps us, not just defensively, but also offensively.”

Chandler, meanwhile, wouldn’t have it any other way. He gets to rub shoulders and share stories with some of the men who were with him during his greatest moment in the NBA, and that suits him well.

“We’re brothers and family,” Chandler said. “That team that won a championship here, and I love them all. I love this organization for it, which is why I spend my time in here because I want to come back, and it’s family.

“So, being in here and being amongst family, every day that’s exactly what it’s like. I come in here and lift and do my thing, and if I can help out somebody here or there, that’s what I do. It’s because it’s a family environment is the reason why somebody like me can come in here and float around.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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