DALLAS _ Tyson Chandler wouldn't mind going home during All-Star Weekend. And while he's there, he also wouldn't mind playing in the All-Star game.
Chandler grew up in Compton, CA, just a stone's throw away from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where this year's All-Star game will occur. The Dallas Mavericks' center believes he has played well enough to earn a spot on the Western Conference team.
Especially since the West's starting center who was voted in by the fans, Yao Ming, won't be able to play because of an ankle injury. NBA commissioner David Stern will pick Yao's replacement, and the West coaches also will pick one or two centers to the West roster.
The All-Star starters were announced Thursday, and seven reserves from each conference will be announced next Thursday.
Chandler, who amazingly wasn't even on the All-Star ballot this year, is hoping someone will notice his solid contributions to the Mavs and find a way to make sure he locks up a spot on the West squad.
"It's not up to me, it comes down to the coaches,'' Chandler said. "I just hope they look at what I've done this year for my team, and I hope they look at it that way.''
Chandler averages 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.22 blocks for the 30-15 Mavs. Among Western Conference centers he is third in rebounding, seventh in scoring and eighth in blocks.
If two pure centers are added to the West rosters, Chandler's biggest competition will come from Andrew Bynum (LA Lakers), Emeka Okafor and Nene.
Bynum finished second in the fan balloting, which usually carries some weight in the eyes of Stern. It helps Bynum, also, that the Lakers are the two-time defending NBA champions, and the fact that the All-Star game will be played in the Lakers'/Clippers' building.
Meanwhile, Okafor averages 11 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.77 blocks for a New Orleans squad that's 31-16 and in a virtual tie with the Mavs for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Also, Nene averages 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks for a Denver team that's 27-18 and two games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.
Chandler, in addition, can't rule out the fact that Stern or the West coaches sometimes will throw a money wrench into the equation and add forwards Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and/or Blake Griffin to the West All-Star team and name them as centers.
Duncan is a prominent player for the San Antonio Spurs, who owns the league's best record at 39-7. Likewise, Nowitzki is a perennial All-Star who has built a nice resume for himself over the past 11 years.
Gasol, of course, has helped the Lakers capture the past two NBA titles and would be playing in front of his hometown fans.
Griffin, meanwhile, has enjoyed a sensational season, is a lock to win the Rookie of the Year award this season, and also would be playing in front of his hometown fans.
Still, Chandler bolstered his All-Star chances by averaging 20.3 points (17 of 24 shots) and 8.3 rebounds in wins during the past three games over New Jersey, the LA Clippers and Houston.
After Chandler collected 21 points and 15 rebounds Thursday against Houston, Mavs guard Jason Terry said: "Tyson Chandler, tremendous game again. He's an All-Star.''
Despite all the odds stacked against him, Chandler is looking at the All-Star game glass as half-full.
"It would mean a lot to me (to make the West team), being my first time,'' he said. "If it happens and for me to able to play in front of my friends and family in LA, it would mean an awful lot to me.''
-- Dwain Price