Lakers’ Chandler immediately protecting home court

New Lakers center Tyson Chandler already has been making a difference in the middle with his hometown team.

First, there was The Decision by LeBron James to take his talents to South Beach and the Miami Heat. Then there was the decision by LeBron to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since then, it’s been speculated in free agency that a hometown kid would take the chance to come back home. Tyson Chandler is the NBA’s latest player to do just that and the Los Angeles Lakers have looked difference ever since.

Sure, when news broke of the Suns buying out Chandler’s contract, making his exit possible, people were quick to criticize the move. Chandler was called “washed,” the implication being he was a shell of his former self and unlikely to make a difference. But a few games later, the Lakers are a game over .500.

It’s already been easy to see that Chandler was a piece the Lakers really needed. But for those who doubted Chandler’s role in the Lakers wins, there was his game-sealing block in the final moments of Sunday’s win over the Atlanta hawks.

CHAMPION’S HEART

As former Lakers and Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich once said, never underestimate the heart of a champion. When it comes to the NBA, two franchises tend to stand out from the rest. One is the Boston Celtics, who have an NBA-leading 17 championships. The other is the Lakers, just behind Boston with 16.

But Los Angeles’ influence on global culture, in terms of fashion, music, Hollywood, etc., makes the Lakers the premier pro basketball brand in the eyes of many. There’s also the fact L.A. is home to two NBA teams. Chandler, of course, hails from the city and last played at Los Angeles at [Manuel] Dominguez High.

SPECIAL TIME TO BE A LAKER

For Chandler, coming back to L.A. and playing for the Lakers must feel like a story-book ending. After all, since being drafted he’s spent about 17 years away from home (in Chicago, New Orleans, Charlotte, Dallas, New York and Phoenix).

Additionally, the timing of Chandler’s return is key, with team owner Jeanie Buss and the rest of Lakers brass having landed LeBron in free agency. It appears the Lakers are positioning themselves to challenge the Golden State Warriors for a championship in the next year or two.

Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler back in his days as a member of the Phoenix Suns.

Chandler has gone from playing with the Phoenix Suns, who finished with the league’s worst record last season, to trying to help LeBron and his supporting cast of talented youth and savvy veterans end the Lakers’ five-year playoff drought.

This is the stuff dreams are made of and right now there is no doubt Chandler is living his best life.