Tyson Chandler was on the B.S. Report yesterday and of course talked lockout, the Mavs title and a few other things we all probably don’t care a ton about. But Bill Simmons asked him about his experience on Team USA in the World Championships last summer, including who surprised him the most. And his answer itself was a bit surprising.
“I will say that Kevin Durant surprised me the most. I didn’t realize, that at 6-10, he can handle the ball as well as he can. And also, how he’s built for that moment. I thought he was a great scorer — I watched him in college, I watched him in high school — I always thought he was a great scorer but I always thought he was a little light.
But I mean he proved everything that I doubted about him wrong and showed me more. Then I got a chance to be around and understand who is and I mean he’s one of the best, I’ll say kids because I’m a little older now, but he’s one of the best kids you could ask for in this league. He has an incredible spirit, he just wants to play the game. He’s not worried about anything else, not worried about the accolades. He just loves the game of basketball.”
“Then I’ll go on to Derrick Rose and Westbrook. I didn’t realize how athletic those two are. They’re able to cover so much ground. I admired watching them every day in practice. Those two competing against each other was an amazing show. Both of them could be NFL running backs.”
On Westbrook and Durant battling for the alpha spot working out:
“I think it will. I think it will. I think right now being young, I’m not going to say they’re finding themselves in this league, it’s hard to say that because they’re great, they’re incredible. They’re at the top of our league so it’s hard to say they’re finding themselves, but they are. And they’re understanding how they can play with one another. Please don’t get me wrong with this ciomparison because I’m definitely not comparing the two but with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Scottie Pippen was all-world. But he found out how to play with the greatest of all time. I feel like Russell Westbrook’s going to do the same thing. He’s going to figure how they can play together.
And the same thing with KD. He’s going to learn how he can play with Russ. I mean they already play well together obviously now, they made it to the [Western] Finals. But they can only get better. I feel like they’ll figure it out. Once they do, it’ll almost be unstoppable because KD won’t have to carry the game all the time. Russ will be able to help in that moment. And then they’ll pick their spots. Russ will start learning, it’s KD’s show and start going to him … It’s going to work out for them. Russ is one of the best guards in the league and KD’s one of the best players in the league so it’s definitely going to work out for them.”
I think you might be able to say they were figuring out pretty well last year. KD’s Game 5 takeover against Denver really stands out to me as a moment where Westbrook did what Chandler said. Durant got going and Westbrook kept getting him the ball. Now of course there were times things didn’t go right, hence the Thunder getting eliminated, but like Chandler said, they’re young and they’re going to figure it out.