When Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York, a lot of people thought it was just Melo that would make an impact on this team. Well, in case you didn’t know, one of the most clutch players in the NBA, Chauncey Billups, was included in that trade. Many, including me at times, thought he didn’t have enough left in the tank. Well, if he wasn’t there in a Knicks uniform when the Knicks played the Heat Sunday, the Knicks would not have won the game.
Chauncey bounced around a lot in his earlier career. He played for Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota before he landed in Detroit. And while he was in Detroit, he finally got his chance to star. Chauncey relished the opportunity in Detroit and became the unquestioned leader when the Pistons won the NBA Championship in 2004. Billups won the NBA Final MVP Award for that win in the Finals against the Lakers as well. Billups, through the years, has developed three things that is now allowing him to flourish as a Knick.
Billups is unquestionable in control of the Knicks. When the Knicks have been on the court recently, you always notice that he is the only one talking when they are huddled up. He commands that respect in the huddle and he realizes that in order for this team to run smoothly, he has to take control, set his stars ( Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire) up to succeed and also get the other role players in their correct spots.
Another thing that you notice about Billups is he has no ego. When you’ve played for as many teams as Billups has, you learn to value everyday you play in the NBA. Billups knows that he isn’t the star of this team, but that his role is to help this team function correctly. He doesn’t care who gets the credit. To be honest, Billups just wants to win and he just does what needs to be done to achieve that. Whether he needs to feed Anthony the ball, feed Stoudemire the ball or take the offense on his shoulders, Billups is willing and able to do whatever needs to be done.
All these things are crucial to the makeup and the DNA of Billups, but perhaps the most important element Billups brings to the Knicks is clutch play down the stretch of games. Mr. Big Shot, his nickname he earned while in Detroit, is always known for making the big shot or play down the stretch. For example, in New York’s 91-86 win versus Miami Sunday night. Chauncey scored 7 or his 16 points in the 4th quarter, including a big 3 pointer that put the Knicks up 1 with 1:01 left to play. He’s made these plays for a while now and quite honestly, I’m shocked Miami would even let him get a sliver of an opening.
The Knicks will continue to adjust and tinker with their lineup for the foreseeable future. They will probably try more guys and may even cut down Chauncey’s minutes, but there is one main thing they need to understand: when its winning time, Chauncey needs to be on the floor. To be honest, he doesn’t just need to be on the floor for the rest of this year. He needs to be there for a while because he fits perfectly with this team. The Knicks need to make it a priority to keep Billups in New York.