Answer Found 04/24/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: allen iverson, basketball, billups iverson trade, chauncey billups, denver nuggets, george karl, nba, nba playoffs, new orleans hornets
In the NBA, it’s all about star power. But, as the Denver Nuggets are now learning, it is also about who the star is.
In the 2006-07 season, the Nuggets were coming off of their 3rd straight first round playoff exit. Mega star Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin needed help to get to the next level. The answer? The Answer. On December 19, 2006,
the Nuggets traded for a point guard, 11 year veteran, 31 year old Allen “The Answer” Iverson. In 2001, Iverson was the NBA scoring champion, league MVP and led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Lakers. Surely Iverson had the experience and chops to complement Anthony and lead these Nuggets. While Melo and AI scored lots of points, the Nuggets fell in the first round of the playoffs. Same thing in 2007-08 season. Lots of points but a first round failure in the playoffs. Something had to change.
Entering the 2008-09 season the pressure was on Nuggets coach George Karl. Perhaps he was the problem. While leadership was the problem, was it on or off the court? On November 3, 2008, The Nuggets traded Iverson to Detroit for point guard, 12 year veteran, 33 year old Chauncey
Billips. In 2004, Billups was The Finals MVP as his Detroit Pistons defeated the Lakers. Detroit again made The Finals in 2005, where they lost to the Spurs. The Nuggets have flourished under Billups leadership. They finished the season with 54 wins, matching the franchise record for wins in a season. They secured the number two seed in the NBA Western Conference and lead 2 games to none in their first round playoff series against the Hornets. It is the first time the Nuggets has won the first two games in a playoff series since 1985. Billips has become the leader of this Nuggets team. And his play has led the way in the first two games. “Mr. Big Shot” has scored 67 points, is 12 of 15 from 3 point range and is perfect from the free throw line. Even better, he has 12 assists in the first two games with NO turnovers. While 2 wins does not guarantee a series win, it looks like the Nuggets will be headed into round two, and with Billups leadership, who knows how far this team can go.
Since Billups, a Denver native, has returned to the Mile High City, word out of Nuggets headquarters is that he has changed the culture of the franchise. Billups has made this franchise his. Iverson never did. And THAT may be the answer.