Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My Fellow Non-NBA All-Star: Chauncey Billups

Billups says he's cool with not being an All-Star

Chauncey Billups, like I, has never been selected to play in the NBA All-Star game. It's one of the few things we have in common. Of course, my non-selection is easily explained; I don't play in the NBA, and I am far less skilled than Billups -- not necessarily in that order.

Billups' omission, however, is much more of a mystery.

Almost every time I see Billups, the Pistons point guard, play, I shake my head and wonder how it is that he's never made the midseason game.

Never was that feeling stronger than Sunday as I watched Game 4 of the Pistons' Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Pacers. The Pistons, down 2-1 in the series and coming off seven pretty ugly quarters of basketball, needed someone to jump to the forefront and re-establish control of a series they should win by all rights. Fortunately, several players answered the bell, but none sooner than Billups.

The Pacers got off to another fast start in Indy, and had the Pistons in a 9-2 hole. Billups then took over, using his strength and shooting skills to post up Jamal Tinsley and lead the Pistons on a dominating 19-1 run to take a 21-10 lead. The Pistons never looked back, nor trailed again. Billups finished with 29 points, dished off some assists, and was the on-court general that coach Larry Brown adores.

The Pistons have been widely described as a team devoid of superstars, and while I agree with that, I don't think there's any question that the engine lies under Billups' hood. Ben Wallace may be the heart and soul and the personification of the "Goin' To Work" theme, but Billups is the one who will take matters into his own hands, offensively, and jump start the team when baskets are needed. They don't call him "Mr. Big Shot" for nothing.

Billups doesn't panic, rarely loses his poise, and carries with him an unwavering confidence and belief that he is the point man for the best team in the world, and if you don't believe him, take him on and try to wrest the NBA crown from him.

Billups is one of few NBA players to win
a championship and Finals MVP, yet not make the All-Star team

Billups, with sincerity, says not making the All-Star game (backcourt teammate Rip Hamilton hasn't made it, either -- which is also hard to believe) doesn't bother him. He's all about team concept and winning. That's great, but it doesn't mean we fellow non-All-Stars can't beat his drum.

The Pistons should do away with the Pacers in six, and then they will be appearing in their third straight Eastern Conference Finals. That streak started with Billups' first season in Detroit.

Don't even think of that being a coincidence.

Now, will someone make him an All-Star, already?

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