Chauncey Billups: From Journeyman To Champion.
In the 2003-2004 NBA Finals a star was born on a team that nobody even expected to win other than their own faithful fans who then even had their personal doubts.
A Detroit Pistons team led by a point guard who was well traveled throughout the NBA and had finally found a home in Detroit.
Chauncey Billups, was the third pick in the draft by the Boston Celtics in 1997. From there on, Billups seemed to be expendable. Boston soon traded him to Toronto, who traded him to Denver the following offseason.
He remained in Denver one season (1998-1999) until they traded him to Orlando after only 13 games (1999-2000). Though he underwent season ending surgery after suffering a shoulder injury.
The next season Billups hit free agency and signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played with the T-Wolves for two seasons before hitting the free agency market again.
Detroit was his next destination and little did he know that he would soon become the face of the new era bad boys of Motor City.
He soon became the leader of a solid team, and a member of a stellar backcourt while teaming up with Richard Hamilton.
His first season brought forth the beginning of a dominant reign of the Eastern Conference for the following six seasons. He reached the Eastern Conference finals in 2002-2003 for the first time before falling to the New Jersey Nets.
Then, the season of all seasons for the Pistons began. Billups led his team under new head coach Larry Brown into the playoffs as the number one seed (the trade for Rasheed Wallace was a huge addition as well).
Though Richard Hamilton shined throughout the Eastern Conference series', it was Billups who became the star.
The Pistons were up against a loaded Los Angeles Lakers squad and a great point guard, Gary "The Glove" Payton. But even the great glove couldn't handle Billups.
Billups led the Pistons both with his leadership and his scoring ability averaging 21.0 points per game. The Pistons won the series 4-1 as they won their third NBA Title.
Billups was then name NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
Over the course of the next four seasons, Billups led the Pistons to another NBA Finals appearance (falling to the San Antonio Spurs in 2005), and four more Eastern Conference Finals appearances, bringing the teams overall total (since the acquisition of Billups) to six.
And here and now, Billups plays for a team close to where his collegiate career started. The Denver Nuggets, traded by the Pistons for Allen "The Answer" Iverson, Billups has returned in a way to his roots.
Teamed along side All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and the electrifying JR Smith, Billups helped lead Denver to its first Western Conference Finals since 1985.
After falling to Bryant and his Lakers 4-2 in an erratic and high scoring series, Billups and his new team are now eagerly looking forward to what the future has in store for them.
Led by a point guard in his prime, whose experience and savvy seems endless and a young forward whose looking to take the next step in his career. The Nuggets now look toward new heights, the NBA Finals.
Can Billups led this group of misfits and outcasts to the NBA's biggest stage? Does he have enough "Mr. Big Shot" left in the tank to be the closer until Anthony is ready?
Billups has already led a team of outcasts to two NBA Finals appearances and six straight conference finals.
There's little doubt that he has the ability to do it again. But, is his team ready to follow him?
Or will the outcasts choose to do what they do so well, rebel against the one player who knows what must be done to succeed.
It's time to find out if Billups can transfer his swagger and level headiness to the Nuggets. Its time to see, if Billups can led the Nuggets to the NBA Finals, and to an NBA Title.
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