Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coach on the Floor

I just finished watching the Denver Nuggets absolutely destroy the Los Angeles Lakers 120-101 to even the series at 2-2.  The Lakers were never in the game and although Carmello Anthony had a terrible night 3-16 FG the Nuggets still managed to pull off the win.

How did they manage to win tonight without their superstar player?

They won because of Chauncey Billups aka the most underrated player in the entire NBA. 

Now Billups didn't win them the game with his scoring, even though he led the team with 24 points, but instead used his tremendous leadership to bring out the best in his teammates.

Much is always in sports of the ability of a coach to get players fired up and bring out the best in them.  For the most part I think this is overplayed because 98% of coaches in sports today seem like they couldn't get fat kids excited to eat.  I mean honestly when the Raptors are down do you think they look at Jay Triano and build off of his energy and his presence?  Hell no.  That's why Billups is so important.

Billups is one of the handful of guys in the NBA who commands the respect of everyone on the floor.  His teammates respect him, the coaches, the refs, and even the players on the other team. He is just that kind of guy.  He has been around the league long enough to be able to yell at his teammates when they are messing up and also to step in and talk to the coaches to help design plays.

Billups is especially handy for the Nuggets who are cursed with having George Karl as their head coach.  This is a man that is so dumb that in the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals he drew up a play for Glen Robinson instead of Ray Allen.  With a chance for the Milwaukee Bucks to go to the NBA Finals he draws a play for an overweight power forward instead of one of the top 10 pure shooters in NBA history.  Moron.

Luckily for Nuggets fans Billups is on the floor and can coach from there and tell his teammates what they need to do and how they need to do it.  If you watch any of the Nuggets games you can see him constantly talking to everyone on the floor during free throws and timeouts he is never quiet and is always moving around. 

This is a quality that is missing from every other team still in the playoffs.  Derek Fisher, Rafer Alston, and Mo Williams all lack any sort of leadership.  Fisher should be a natural leader considering he is proven veteran but he has played like crap and has made himself invisible both on the floor and in the huddle.  Alston refuses to pass and Williams prefers to shoot and let LeBron lead the show.

Billups has made the Conference Final 7 years in a row now and that is no coincidence.  He has always played on good teams but has always been responsible for keeping egos in check.  With the Pistons he had to deal with Rasheed Wallace and in Denver he has to deal with Anthony, Martin, Nene, and Smith.  He has a calming presence and throughout his career he has always been able to work with difficult players.

The Nuggets traded for Billups mid season and gave up a ball hogging has-been in Allen Iverson for a playoff tested floor general in Billups.  When people look back on that trade years later it may go down as one of the worst trades of the decades as Detroit clearly missed the influence of Billups and the Nuggets have benefited greatly.

Going into the postseason many people wrote off the Nuggets, including myself, but they have been impressive so far and look to be a legit threat to beat the Lakers and maybe win the whole things.  If they are successful it will be because of Billups and his great leadership on and off the court.

Random Youtube Video

No comments: