So calm. So collected. So cool.
As a cold-blooded assassin on the court, Chauncey Billups could do this all along. Whether he’s dropping his patented backbreaking transition three on the defense, directing his teammates where to be, or using his strength to get to the rim at will, announcers and broadcasters rave about his poise and talent.
But where were these praises when Chauncey was bouncing around the league looking to find a home? The evolution of Chauncey Billups as an elite level point guard is more like a rags to riches story rather than a Hollywood fairytale.
In 1997, Billups was selected third overall by the Boston Celtics. Midway through his first season, he was traded to the Raptors for Kenny Anderson. The next season, he played for Denver, but was dealt to Orlando where he stayed on the injury list and didn’t play a single game. Billups was then signed to Minnesota as a backup to then starting point guard Terrell Brandon. Eventually, Billups replaced the injury prone Brandon and had a break out year during the 2001-2002 season.
Billups was the icing on the cake for Joe Dumars (then and present GM of the Detroit Pistons) who signed him along with a core of four other solid guys in the summer of 2002.
Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace formed the nucleus that became the class of the Eastern Conference. On paper, this core seems like immediate championship contenders; however, the x-factor was Billups and his ability to be the floor general. Billups exceeded expectations and, in 2004, led his team past the Lakers to win the NBA Championship.
The new “Mr. Big Shot” was named the series MVP and finally considered a superstar caliber player. Even with his successes in Motown this past November, Billups was overlooked yet again. With the Pistons championship window shrinking rapidly, Dumars opted to deal Mr. Big Shot for “Mr. A lot of Shots” in an attempt to get in the free agency sweepstakes.
Allen Iverson didn’t work out for the Pistons as they evidently missed their leader in Chauncey. However, Billups flourished back in his hometown of Denver.
Unless the NBA added two more basketballs to play with, the combination of Iverson, Carmelo, and JR Smith was as flawed of a trio I’ve seen since Hanson. The Nuggets were going nowhere with shoot-first (second and third) Iverson at the helm.
With Billups, Denver finally has stability and, even more importantly, they finally have a seasoned point guard on whom to lean, as he has “been there” before.
The transition for Billups to Denver has been seamless. His sheer presence immediately garnered respect from teammates, coaches, and fans. The stigma that Billups carries didn’t come over night, as it took years for him to develop into the floor presence that fellow players use and opponents fear.
For a player that bounced around the league, was once traded for Kenny Anderson, and a backup for Terrell Brandon, Billups truly is a journey man. He kept working hard and made the most out of all his minutes.
Billups has evolved into a point guard of whom coaches and teammates dream. As their fearless leader, Chauncey Billups has a once-reeling Denver team poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. Look for Denver to make a serious run at the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
After all, with Chauncey, anything is possible.