Clippers game a bittersweet homecoming for Chauncey Billups

It’s early in the Denver Nuggets 2011-2012 season, but the story so far has no doubt been the inspiring double overtime win against the departed Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers doesn’t feature the same hype and excitement surrounding the Knicks contest, but it’s no less symbolic for Nuggets fans witnessing Chauncey Billups’ first return to the Pepsi Center since the infamous trade marking the end of the Melo era.

I have to admit, I never wanted Chauncey Billups traded. It wasn’t until very late in the Melodrama that I ultimately accepted the fact Denver’s native son had to be sacrificed in order to ensure a viable post-Carmelo future.

Chauncey’s arrival in 2008 validated the Carmelo Anthony era. After years of unsuccessfully building around a budding young star, Billups was the piece that completed the Nuggets’ transition from first-round fodder to a legitimate contender in western conference. I strongly believe the 2009 and 2010 seasons were the best chances Denver has ever had at a championship. Chauncey Billups’ storybook return home was probably the biggest factor in that transformation.

In the end, Melo and the Nuggets grew apart before their time came. Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri were forced to make the difficult but necessary decision to trade Billups and move forward with a youth movement centered around Gallo and Ty Lawson.  Looking back, it wasn’t the fitting end to Chauncey’s career Nuggets fans desperately wanted; but it was the best move for a franchise stuck between a rock and a hard place with a star player who wanted out.

I strongly believe the Clippers are on the right path to becoming a force in the western conference. Chris Paul is in the same class as Lebron James and Kevin Durant as transcendent players capable of changing N.B.A. franchise fortunes overnight. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan compose the kind of athletic frontcourt that could give the Nuggets’ energetic style a real challenge.

I wish Chauncey Billups the best in his N.B.A. future 63 out of 66 games in this lockout-shortened season — the exceptions being tonight and February 2nd and 22nd in Los Angeles.

Thank you Chauncey.

Featured Links:

Chauncey Billups belongs to Denver
Revisit Jeremy’s fantastic article on Chauncey Billups’ legacy in Colorado.

Billups and Pride
Our ESPN TrueHoop affiliate Clipperblog debates Chauncey’s future in the NBA

Hornets actively shopping Kaman
ESPN: Kaman is benched till the Hornets find a trade partner for him. Would the Nuggets be interested? I doubt it, Denver has no trade exceptions large enough to absorb Kaman’s $14mil expiring contract and would have to part with Miller, Harrington, or Birdman to make salaries work. The logistics of trading for him make Denver a longshot at best, and I doubt his declining athleticism and offensive game would be a good fit in Denver’s fast paced style of play.

Billups has reached out to Kenyon Martin
Chauncey is recruiting free agent Kenyon Martin to the Los Angeles Clippers. Martin is also being pursued by the Heat, Spurs, Knicks and Hawks. For anyone wondering, the chances Martin returns to Denver are virtually nil and I’d be surprised if either side is remotely interested in a reunion, but stranger things have happened.

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Charlie Yao

Managing Editor at Roundball Mining Company and writer since 2010. Unhealthily obsessed with Nuggets basketball since 2002. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at the links on the left.
  • Amel

    I still can’t understand why we traded Chauncey in order to get Felton as our second PG. Chauncey would fit in perfectly in GK’s smallball formation and he wouldn’t mind not being a starter

  • ld

    Anyone know a way to stream the game tonight? I go to school in Indiana, and nuggets fans are few and far between.

    • Amel should have streams…

  • Adam

    I think this season is the best chance to win the title. I have been a fan since the early 80’s, and by FAR I can say this is the best team the Nuggets have ever had, and the MF’in numbers DON”T lie.
    I would be very surprised if any team would be stupid enough to take Kaman at 14 mill. 3-4 million a year tops. I could care less about Martin, after his tweets about aids. Chandler is the only one I think we will get, and the only one we could use. I won’t even go into the other guy in China, he aint worth it.
    @Id Google live streaming nba.

  • Hawkeye-X

    Your tribute to Chauncey is very fitting. I knew Chauncey Billups since high school, and have followed his career since I graduated a year ahead of him. I knew he would be a champion, and an all-around class act.

    I just hope Chauncey will decide to come home and retire a Nugget. It is a fitting tribute to his long career.

    I believe that we will not see the end of Chauncey, though – because I know he’s always been a coach, and has learned from the best here in Colorado. He will be not only an Hall of Famer as a player, but as a coach, someday.

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