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Tue, 08 May 2012 12:37 AM EDT

New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler fulfilled a career-long dream when he was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

The funny point is, though, Chandler never thought he’d get the award this season. Baseball lines

He figured it would go to a “glamour” guy — a player like LeBron James, Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnett. So when he 1st heard that he’d won the award, he said he was “ecstatic.”

“To be considered the best defensive player in the league this year was just the ultimate for me,” Chandler said. “As much as I thought about it while I was in the gym every single day training, it’s kind of one of those things where that usually goes to the glamorous guy. It’s been that way my complete career. So to eventually get this, it means the World.”

Chandler received 311 points and forty five 1st-place votes from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters. The Thunder’s Serge Ibaka finished 2nd with 294 points and the Magic’s Howard, who had won the award each one of the previous 3 seasons, finished 3rd with 186 points.

Chandler has been potentially the most valuable player on the Knicks’ list this season. He is the driver behind the Knicks’ turnabout on defense.

Last season the Knicks ranked 22nd in defensive potency, a measure of points authorized per 100 possessions. After Chandler was got thru a 3-team sign-and-trade in the offseason, the Knicks surged to 5h in defensive potency, thanks largely to Chandler.

“When you talk about building a championship team, it starts in the middle and Tyson has been all of that and some (more),” interim coach Mike Woodson announced, adding, “He’s the ideal fit in terms what I look out for in a defensive center.”

Chandler failed to finish the season leading the NBA in blocks or rebounds, but his impact may be felt when he was not in the lineup. In the 4 games he missed, opponents scored a average of 113 points per game.

The 7-foot-1 Chandler was also a defensive linchpin for the Dallas Mavericks during their title run last season. He came 3rd in Defensive Player of the Year voting last year. Chandler, along with Woodson, right away modified the defensive culture for the Knicks at the beginning of the season.

“He’s a great all around player, he’s an even better teammate,” Woodson said.

“To actually have an chance to coach him is like a dream come true.

Chandler is never one to promote himself, but he’s completely conscious of the impact he’s had on the Knicks’ defense in his 1st season in New York.

“You see a man out there playing hard, going 100% every possession, it’s kind of hard not to step up to the challenge,” announced Chandler, whose defensive idol is Bill Russell. “That’s what I try to do. I try and give my colleagues no excuses because I feel just like if I’m going to go out there and I’m going to do it, then (they) can do the exact same thing.”

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