Tyson Chandler can't wear his emotions on his sleeve because, well, basketball uniforms don't have them.
But Chandler's whole game is emotionscreaming it, channeling it, sometimes losing it.
That's why any claims Chandler tried to make that the Bulls' 104-93 victory over his New Orleans/Oklahoma City team was just another game were as flimsy as his baggy shorts.
Chandler, in his first visit to the United Center since the Bulls traded him in July after five seasons in Chicago, already had made it impossible for Friday to be just another game with comments he made to The Daily Oklahoman.
Taking his public frustration with Bulls coach Scott Skiles to a new level, Chandler said Skiles is "not a good person, and that's obvious in the way he treats his players and the comments that he makes. So I don't even pay attention to him because he's so little to me."
Chandler backed off the tape-recorded comments before Friday's game and asked reporters to tell Skiles he had been misquoted, an in-vogue move in pro sports. Skiles declined to respond.
But there's no doubt Chandler won't be thanking Skiles in his victory speech if he should win this season's rebounding title, a real possibility with him trailing only Kevin Garnett.
And Chandler's return, which brought smiles and hugs from former teammates and building personnel before the game and boos from the sellout crowd during it, only heightened those feelingsno matter what he said publicly.
"I have nothing against Scott Skiles," Chandler said. "Sometimes my words get twisted up. When I left there, I tried to take the high road and say how much of a good coach I thought he was. It's unfortunate [we] didn't get along."
Asked why matters deteriorated from his perspective, Chandler sighed.
"I don't know," he said. "I was a player and I was playing for my coach and I tried hard and worked hard and things just didn't work out."
Jannero Pargo, another ex-Bull who again is Chandler's teammate, has a theory.
"He's not under as much stress as he was last year with the coaching staff and fans here," the Robeson High product said. "Scott's a good coach. But it was bad. Scott expected a lot out of Tyson. I think he went the wrong way trying to get stuff out of him.
"Coach [Byron] Scott is just letting him play and trying to be encouraging and putting the ball in his hands and letting him do his thing. He's at the top of his game."
Skiles has claimed he spent more individual time talking to Chandler than any player he has coached. Still, he shrugged off a question about his disappointment level over Chandler's comments.
"I'm an easy target now," Skiles said. "It has happened in the past. I realize that. I guess I've grown accustomed to it. I'm a pretty secure person. I know who I am and what I'm all about. Over the years, I've actually done some things even to myself that have caused me to evaluate myself as a person."
The two haven't spoken since last summer's trade, although Chandler confirmed Skiles sent him an e-mail, which Chandler called "good."
"I like Tyson as a person," Skiles said. "I didn't have any problem with him. At least I didn't think I did. Apparently I did."
Chandler finally grew tired of the line of questioning.
"I think it's just too much put into me and Skiles," Chandler said. "We had a tough year. But it could be played on both parts. It could be put on my shoulders just as well as his. I'm not going to talk bad about him."
The Chandler saga threatened to overwhelm an entertaining game that featured the Bulls ripping off a 16-2 run early, Tyrus Thomas taking off from the dotted line to dunk over Rasual Butler for a three-point play and a wild finish.
The Hornets ripped off a 9-0 run to take an 88-83 lead before the Bulls stormed back with a 19-2 spurt. The Bulls led 92-90 when Desmond Mason forced a brutal shot over two defenders along the baseline. Luol Deng, playing with a brace on his left knee, drilled a baseline jumper on the ensuing fast break.
When Ben Gordon added two free throws with 87 seconds remaining after a Devin Brown miss, the Bulls coasted home despite 21 turnovers.
"I'm going to spend [Saturday] going over resumés for a turnover coach," Skiles cracked. "But it was a good win."
Gordon' 27 points led the Bulls. Deng, who said he knocked knees with Mason but will be fine, added 24.
Thomas fought through foul trouble to finish with 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocksand seven turnovers. Told Thomas' dunk looked like some of his from his Bulls days, Chandler cracked wise.
"He better not follow in my footsteps or he'll be out of here," Chandler said.
Chandler finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th straight double-double. He clanged a one-handed dunk high off the back rim with 44 seconds remaining, fouled Kirk Hinrich 10 seconds later, whom he hugged, and then was gone.
"I was a little jittery," he said. "I didn't care about the boos because I don't play for this city anymore and I feel I'm doing well for my team.
"Kirk, Ben and Lou are looking really good. The sky's the limit for them. I love those guys. They're like my brothers."
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