With The Last Dance set to air tonight, Houston Rockets center Tyson Chandler talks about how he first met Michael Jordan as an 18-year-old.
Houston Rockets center Tyson Chandler has carved out a wildly successful NBA career, and has developed quite the basketball resume. That resume includes a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, three All-Defensive teams, an All-NBA selection, an All-Star selection, and an NBA title.
Chandler has also become a bit of an iron man, as he’s playing in his 19th season at the age of 37. But long before Tyson became an All-NBA performer, he was a top high school player out of Compton’s Manuel Dominguez High School.
Chandler led Dominguez to a state championship as a senior, posting averages of 26 points, 15 rebounds, and eight blocks per game. The 7-foot-1 center had offers from every school in the nation, as expected, but opted to forgo college and enter the NBA Draft, which was also expected.
“So here’s my MJ story of the first time I met him. I was 18 years old and I was working out for the draft. I hear that he’s going to come to my workout, and my biggest thing was alright, just don’t pass out when MJ walks into the gym.”
ESPN was interviewing several NBA players about Michael Jordan’s effect on them, in advance of the highly anticipated 30-for-30 special The Last Dance. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to hear more of the story, because it would be interesting to know if Chandler actually passed out or not.
The fact that Jordan actually went to watch Chandler’s workout is impressive by itself, as that draft class included several other high school standouts, such as Eddy Curry and Kwame Brown. Jordan was the general manager of the Wizards at the time, and they had the first pick in the draft, following a dismal 19-63 season.
Jordan ultimately passed on drafting Chandler, as he opted to select Kwame Brown instead, who never lived up to the hype. This is certainly a decision MJ would love to have back, as Brown is viewed as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history.
Jordan actually came out of retirement to join the Wizards during Brown’s rookie season, which led to a major attendance boost for the Wizards. During the 2001-02 season, the Wizards finished second in attendance, and Jordan averaged 22.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. Jordan actually led the Wizards in points, assists, and steals that season, while also making the All-Star team. It goes without saying but these were all impressive feats for a 38-year-old.
Jordan played one more season with the Wizards before calling it quits, as he made yet another All-Star team. Jordan’s heroics didn’t lead the Wizards into the postseason yet again, as they went 37-45 for the second straight season.
Houston Rockets center Tyson Chandler was the second overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, and ironically went to the Chicago Bulls, which was Jordan’s former team. Chandler signed with the Houston Rockets this past offseason, and plays a large role in the locker room, which makes sense considering his age and experience.