There was not a single Nuggets fan that was happy to see Chauncey go last year. The success of the current roster of talent does not make up for his absence. Even as the current Nuggets includes the talents of Danilo Galinari and Timofey Mosgov directly from the trade and then peripheral talent scattered around the Nuggets organization. Chauncey’s leadership, passion and experience can never be replaced in Colorado.
The hometown kid has to know how the Nuggets nation feels. He got applause that almost matched Tim Tebow applause. The patron saint of Denver himself was in the building to watch the “King of Parkhill” return to the block. And so Denver fans clapped loudly for Billups, clapped politely when he made his first few baskets and then proceeded to watch Billups light up the Pepsi Center, just in red.
For all of the good will put forth to Chauncey by the Nuggets, they still traded him. And I will guarantee this, as long as he is on the basketball court, he will not let the Nuggets forget that. This is not a guy the Nuggets want to play in the playoffs because, with a chip on his shoulder, he’s better than anyone on the floor. That is why he scored a game-high 32 points and beat the Nuggets with two clutch threes to tie the game and take the lead in the fourth.
Chauncey Billups’ character off the court mimics his game on the court. He places a lot of his game on family and steps up to make way for other players’ weaknesses. It’s the reason the Pistons of 2004 were able to win an NBA Championship. It was the reason the “Thuggets” evolved into a Western Conference Finals team. It was the reason Amare and Carmelo were better in New York last year. And it may just be the reason that the star-studded Clippers rotation finds chemistry to compete in the West.
While the Nuggets likely would have won the game with the assistance of starting point Ty Lawson, they definitely would have won if they could have controlled Chauncey Billups. The ironic thing about this Nuggets team which lacks a superstar is that the player who could help them most is the player with whom they had to part ways.
Mr. Big Shot still has a couple of years left to excel, to build up a talented Clippers organization and make a title run. It’s just too bad Denver could not have it both ways. If Chauncey had stayed in Denver, they would not have a team that could compete in the Western Conference. But without Chauncey, they may not be able to gel enough to win a championship.