Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chauncey Billups: Mr Good Guy For Sure

Wrtitten by Danny Hobrock

Chauncey Billups, a perennial image in the NBA playoffs, could be called a lot of names. You could call him the X-Factor for his role as the catalyst in bringing Denver past the first round. Mr. Big Shot, a name he earned while a member of the Detroit Pistons for his nerves of steel, unmatched leadership at the point guard position and his late game heroics in the playoffs. But let me argue another nickname: Mr. Good Guy.

The nickname was first given to him by Keith Langlois in an article that appeared on the Detroit Piston's website. The article was sparked by Billups' recognition as the 2007-08 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner. The award is given out annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association for exceptional involvement and devotion in the community. His contributions to Detroit area charities and his commitment to the underprivileged youth in the area earned him the award.

He stayed active in various charities in many cities along his well-traveled NBA career including Minnesota and Denver. Yeah, he's the man off the court, but let's talk about Billups' on the court.

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Before Billups returned to Denver this season, former NBA MVP Allen Iverson handled the point guard duties. In Iverson's lone full season in Denver, he averaged 26.4 points, 7.1 assists and 2.0 steals. Not too shabby. Denver, the eight seed in the West that year, was swept in the first round by the top seeded, and eventual Western Conference Champion, Los Angeles Lakers.

In 77 games with Denver this year, Chauncey Billups averaged 17.9 points, 6.4 assists and 1.2 steals. Not bad either, but he doesn't match Iverson's numbers from the previous year in any of the three categories. Denver is the two seed in this year's playoffs and is preparing to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals tonight, a rematch from the previous year's playoff series. This time, something tells me the ball will fall differently for Denver.

Talking to my dad on the telephone today, he asked me a question that stuck with me. He asked me, "Who would you rather Carmelo Anthony spend his time with after the game, Allen Iverson or Chauncey Billups?"

Chauncey of course!



He is nothing but a positive influence in the locker room, on the court and in his community. Having Billups on the roster and starting every game has inspired the rest of the Nuggets to pick up their own game. Despite his lesser numbers, Chauncey makes everybody on the floor better.

Denver last year was running around like chickens without heads. Just throwing the ball at the basket every chance they got.

This year, with Mr. Big Shot running the show, the Nuggets have a clearly defined leader. They have stability and a rhythm to their game. They have a man not afraid to take that shot when his team needs him to. It has inspired others to step up to the plate when their time is called as well.

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Carmelo Anthony is probably the best all-around player on the Denver roster. He is the most skilled as a basketball player. Few people would argue with that. He has not yet, however, made the leap to the league's elite players. By elite, I mean the top 5 guys in the league (i.e. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dywane Wade, Paul Pierce and Chris Paul). What sets them apart from guys like Melo is their leadership. All 5 of those guys have superior skills and are clear cut leaders on and off the court.

With Billups as the leader on the court the Nuggets do not require Anthony to be the leader they needed him to be in the past. With Iverson, neither he nor Anthony ever stepped up to be the type of leader needed to excel in the NBA.

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This is not to say that Anthony will never be the type of leader that puts him alongside the league's elite. Billups' presence on the team will only help him to learn to be the leader he should be. Maybe we saw a snippet of his development into the Billups mold in Game 3 of the Dallas series when he stepped up, played through a no-call foul and hit the game winning three to put Denver up 3 games to none.

Chauncey on the roster pushes the Nuggets into the game's elite teams. It makes them good enough to play with the big boys and not get squashed. In fact, it makes them one of the big boys. It allows them to compete with Kobe's Lakers in the Conference Finals. Hey, it may even be enough to conquer the West.

Written by Danny Hobrock

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