Chauncey Billups certainly knows what it means to be a team player. He may not average ten assists like two-time MVP Steve Nash, but he certainly prides his game out of getting the most out of his teammates.
In 2004, Billups become not only an NBA Champion, but an NBA Finals MVP with the Pistons. Though no one on that Pistons squad averaged more than 18 points per game that season, the players' determination, cohesiveness, and connection with each other propelled them to the Finals.
Billups' Pistons were a team that thrived because of team work and defense, two areas that the 2011-12 New York Knicks can certainly look to improve upon. While it was important that the Pistons' coaching staff preached effort on the defensive end, that same group also sent four players to the NBA All-Star Game in 2006.
In an interview with Chris Tomasson of HoopsHype, Billups shared what's he learned over the years, being a team player, as it relates to the recently wrapped Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals matchup, and the future of the Knicks.
“I think that in any situation you got to get a team,’’ Billups said. “It’s not about names, how many people on your team can make the All-Star Game. It’s not about that at all. It’s about putting the right pieces together. You got to have a cohesive unit. You got to have guys that know to play off of one another, guys that are going to be unselfish on both ends of the floor. Those are things that win championships, and we’ve seen that clear as day in the Finals.
“We got two of the biggest names in basketball already (in Anthony and Stoudemire)," Billups said. "It’s not about that. It’s about getting somebody that can play with the talent that you have… You look at the Mavericks, and they just share the basketball every time down the floor… Dirk is one of the best the game has ever seen. But he couldn’t do it by himself… So it’s all about the team.
Billups seems to assert that building a team with strong pieces all around, surrounding an even sturdier foundation, works more often than making a team with stars and different egos. It's also what I've been alluding to all along.
One thing I will say about Billups is that although he's clearly a Denver guy with loyalty to the city, he's been nothing but a professional in New York. He seems to really want this team to succeed, and obviously wants to make the most out of his time here.
The rest of Tomasson's interview with Billups is also fantastic, as the two touch on Billups' return to Denver as a Knick next season, the Olympics, living out of a hotel, and more. Be sure to check it out here.