It was a painful day in Denver Tuesday for Nuggets fans as the reality of the loss of their beloved player finally started to hit home. They lost a guy in this trade that was the heart and soul of their team and the driving force for their recent success. He was…is…a legend in a city that respects and admires their sports stars and will be greatly missed.
Oh, and the player I’m talking about isn’t named Carmelo Anthony either, it’s Chauncey Billups.
Carmelo may be a top ten player in this league but he never was and never will be the soul of a team, a guy that others look up to for leadership and a guy that can control a locker room. Basically, he’ll never be Chauncey Billups. Billups is Denver Basketball. He played basketball at George Washington High School and the University of Colorado before joining the Nuggets 2 years ago. He is very active in the community and has earned a very high level of respect from the fans and the Nuggets ownership, so much so that the most painful part about trading Anthony was that Billups had to be included.
"I can’t recall the exact date, but I can remember the exact conversation that Masai (Ujiri) and I had when we came to the realization that in order for us to maximize our return we had to make the trade bigger," Nuggets executive Josh Kroenke said. "We explored every different option; a lot of different combinations of incoming and outgoing players.
"And we actually searched the league trying to figure out (options). When we were in talks with New Jersey, when we were in talks with other teams, there was always a high-level point guard on that team. And we looked for different options to try and figure out ways to pass that point guard through in a three-or-four team deal, which is why things got so crazy at some points. Because whenever you try to involve multiple teams, especially whenever somebody already knows that Carmelo Anthony has asked to be traded, it gets chaotic. We realized if we’re going to make it bigger…that’s when we realized it could be Chauncey. I didn’t sleep for a couple of days. It was a really, really rough decision."
Billups is/was so highly regarded by the Denver Nuggets organization that they opened their news conference Tuesday by offering the following apology to the Billups family.
"I want to offer a personal apology to the Billups family," Kroenke said. "They mean the world to me personally, and I know that Chauncey means everything to Denver. And when I say Denver, I mean just Denver basketball on every level. He is Denver basketball. He was a high school star here, he was a college star here, he was a professional star here. It was an incredibly tough decision to include him in this trade."
In the end, this trade may have been about Carmelo Anthony, the new poster-child for the spoiled athlete that is becoming rapidly prevalent in an NBA society, but the true story is about sacrifice and character. The sacrifice of the Nuggets to get what they could before their star walks and the character of Billups, who unfortunately got caught up in the wake of Anthony’s demands.