Friday, May 29, 2009

Can Billups Do It Again?

"Everyone knows what I have been through. Guys that have been through what I have and lost are a dime a dozen. They brought me here to win. Guys can pull from me what I have been through and learn from how I got out if it."

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This was Chauncey Billups, as reported by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, upon leaving a team meeting on Thursday. It's no secret that Billups has bought into his role as the inspirational and steady-headed leader of the Denver Nuggets. Most are betting that the Nuggets will ride the home court advantage wave to force a Game 7 back in Los Angeles. As of 5pm the Nuggets are five point favorites and most analysts and so-called experts have picked them to win.

But with Kobe Bryant playing the way he has and the overpowering force the Lakers can be at times, some people are still skeptical.

The hardest thing to do in the NBA playoffs is finish off a team. Especially teams like Denver, who has been forced to taste the bitterness of elimination year after year. This is their year and they want it like they've never wanted it before. The Nuggets, perpetually fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot, had finally secured a high seed in the Western Conference bracket. To just make it out of the first round for the first time since 1994 and make it to the conference finals for the first time since 1985 (where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers) might be considered an impressive feat by some.

Rest assured though, it is not enough for Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and the rest of the Nuggets who have grown tired of being the league's 'almost there' team. And you can bet that Billups will be hungry for another Finals appearance since losing to San Antonio in 2005.

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The statistic has been beaten to death, but it's truly impressive that Billups-led teams have made the conference finals for 7 straight years. Wow. The guy's nothing but a winner, no doubt about that. And now, facing elimination from the playoffs at the hands of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, Chauncey Billups knows that his time has come to lead the Nuggets to the Promised Land for a shot at an NBA Title.

I opened this article with a quote from Billups. In it, he states, "Guys that have been through what I have and lost are a dime a dozen. They brought me here to win." It's not just that he's been there. It's that he's been there and he got it done.

Perhaps most importantly, Billups himself has the confidence that comes from being there and doing the impossible- or at least the highly unlikely. Down 3-2 to the top seeded Miami Heat and mighty Dwyane Wade in the 2005 Eastern Conference Championship, Billups led the second seed Detroit Pistons to two straight victories to win the East.

Down 3-2 to the top seeded Los Angeles Lakers and mighty Kobe Bryant, Billups finds himself facing a similar situation.

Written By Danny Hobrock
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