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The Disposable Superstar
May 11, 2009 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Tom Friend's retrospective of Chauncey Billup's career is as fine a profile of leadership, tenacity, and redemption as comes along in American sportswriting.

And I'm not even a basketball fan
posted by Roach (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this; good for later reading.

ESPN's Outside the Lines has had some gems lately, like this one about NFL ref Ed Hochuli.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2009


Great article. I read it in entirety this morning. I'm always amazed when I read an article online of this length. It has to be really readable and the subject matter has to be of deep interest. Another long (NBA-related) article I read online in its entirety: The No-Stats All-Star (nyt).
posted by madh at 4:10 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting enough piece and I love some of the anecdotes, but to be blunt I actually disliked it overall. I don't think Friend framed Chauncey's career accurately... or even really tried to. He frames the piece as if he is going to say one thing, the whole "disposal superstar" angle (or his editor might have, it reads like that) and really the article just streams along anecdotal-ly without ever really backing up any of it.

The author makes it seem like Billups was tossed around by all six of these teams which is not even accurate in the slightest (it was really only four teams, and over this long a career that's about average for an NBA player). Billups was indeed dumped by Pitino, but his leaving from Minnesota was simply because they couldn't afford him. Signing as a big free agent is hardly a measure of being "disposable" if anything it's the opposite. And later his trade from Detroit was absolutely nothing but a naked salary dump. It had nothing to do with Billups really, they had to trade someone from their core four and were actually trying to trade Rasheed. They dumped Billups to free up space later.

What's more interesting is that people have been going nuts for Billups because he was the added ingredient to the nuggets. The truth is that the real #1 guy on the team, Melo, has been playing out of his mind and ascended to true stardom... only no one is talking about it. Anyone notice that all the guys who went to the Olympics this year came back and have been playing out of their mind??? (Despite obvious physical ailments that come with playing that many games).

Maybe I'm going off on a tangent, but billups is a proto-typical #2. You can't win without him, he makes everyone better, but he needs a #1. He needs a team. He can't be a team focal point on his own like Chris Paul, and thus doesn't fit for me in the Isiah Thomas/magic pantheon of all time great point guards.

Don't get me wrong, he's an amazing player and I love everything he brings. But I just define him in a different roll.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 4:17 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I -- for one, am happy to read about a black athlete who's ol' school work ethic, attention to detail and common sense is brought to the fore. Much better than drama, selfishness and bling that has come to dominate the NBA in the last twenty years.

Play on, Chauncey...
posted by black8 at 4:31 PM on May 11, 2009


Congrats to Faye and Ray and "Uncle" Sam Mitchell. They helped a boy become a man.
posted by Cranberry at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2009


The author makes it seem like Billups was tossed around by all six of these teams which is not even accurate in the slightest

But don't Billups' own quotes relating to his feelings about being bounced from the various teams, not to mention those from his wife, suggest that this was the way he emotionally experienced the perpetual team-shifting?
posted by Roach at 4:50 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone notice that all the guys who went to the Olympics this year came back and have been playing out of their mind???

Let us not discuss Manu Ginobli. I get techy on that subject.

I enjoyed the posted article, but mainly because I didn't know his history at all, and it kinda brought me up to speed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:06 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great post. Long time Pistons fan and nothing but happy that Mr. Big Shot is getting his due back in his hometown again. I think the Nuggets can win it all this year. No fooling. Thanks for the ring, Chauncey.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:10 PM on May 11, 2009


Man, as a Pistons fan, I miss Chauncey. I know why he got traded, and I had hoped that AI would actually stay healthy and contribute, but he was such a great part of that 2004 team. Now I just hope they're smart enough to hold onto Prince while they're dumping Wallace (and maybe Hamilton).

And man, they shoulda taken, well, anyone, but really Anthony over Darko, who's probably the biggest bust #1 in the history of the NBA.
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on May 11, 2009


And man, they shoulda taken, well, anyone, but really Anthony over Darko, who's probably the biggest bust #1 in the history of the NBA.

Actually, Darko was drafted 2nd, Lebron was drafted first that year.

And off the top of my head, Michael Olowokandi was a bigger bust, since Darko was younger, out of Europe, and generally acknowledged as a project when drafted.

But I agree, drafting Darko over Anthony (or Wade, or Bosh) was a huge mistake, both at the time and in hindsight.
posted by shen1138 at 5:47 PM on May 11, 2009


Um sorry guys. The correct answer for biggest bust in NBA history is the following

1984 draft

1 - Hakeem!!! (not bad or anything. He was an incredible all around center. good won two titles, but both deserve asterisk because...)

2 - SAM BOWIE (Dear god the horror... the horror. played 3 seasons. no impact. biggest bust of all time, because drafted right after him was...)

3 - Michael Jordan (best player of all time. arguably could have won 8 titles if didn't retire mid career. said retirement the reason the rockets won those 2 championships w/ hakeem)

4 - Sam Perkins - THUD

5 - Charles Barkley - unfortunately had to play in the jordan era.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:22 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll read this as soon as I get back from class. Like klang and joe, I love the pistons, and was saddened by the trade. Since my teams are both out, I'm rooting for the nuggets, mostly for Chauncey, and Melo, whom we could have had...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:34 PM on May 11, 2009


Naw, Sam Bowie was nowhere near the NBA's biggest draft bust. Biggest mistake in hindsight, very likely, but he lasted 11 seasons. That's not really a bust.

He and Olajuwon were the two best-regarded big men coming out of college that year, and both Houston and Portland were more in need of a center than a shooting guard. Few could foresee that Jordan would be the best of all time.
posted by stargell at 6:42 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


And the Nuggies cry cry cry.
posted by Viomeda at 7:34 PM on May 11, 2009


Honorable mention for biggest NBA draft bust: Chris (Can't Find the Arena) Washburn
posted by lukemeister at 7:37 PM on May 11, 2009


nice article
posted by taliaferro at 7:44 PM on May 11, 2009


If you get a chance, you should really check out The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac put out by Free Darko. It has a beautiful section on the 2000 draft, which they claim was the all around worst of all time. Check it out, Kenyon Martin at 1, Stromile Swift at 2, and Darius Miles at 3.

Of course, there's always the Candyman. Seriously, click that link. It's just like his career.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:28 PM on May 11, 2009


2 - SAM BOWIE (Dear god the horror... the horror. played 3 seasons. no impact. biggest bust of all time, because drafted right after him was...)

It's hard to argue for this pick, but in hindsight, you can see where they went wrong. Good big men are hard to find. In 1984, you built teams around centers and forwards, not around guards (and if you did, you went looking for big guards, like 6-9 Magic Johnson). Jordan came out of North Carolina a year early, long before that became the norm. The Blazers needed a center -- and they already had Clyde Drexler! And nobody knew Bowie was going to be as injury prone as that other Blazers big man, Bill Walton.

It wasn't until after the draft, in the 1984 Olympics, that Jordan started making heads *really* turn with OMFG talent.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:11 PM on May 11, 2009


As a fellow non-basketball-fan, my main impression of Chauncey Billups has been that his name would be much better suited to a railroad tycoon.
posted by decagon at 9:13 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Steve Stipanovich is reading this thread somewhere and rejoicing that his name hasn't come up. Until now.

Loved the article, thanks for posting.
posted by vito90 at 11:58 PM on May 11, 2009


Ghidorah is right. Go get The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac right now. Very probably the best sports book ever conceived. Madness, beauty and strange, strange stats.
posted by i_cola at 2:42 AM on May 12, 2009


Go get The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac right now. Very probably the best sports book ever conceived.

It looks cool, but I read the section on Tim Duncan, and I have to disagree somewhat of his caricature of him as a robotic automaton. I think his & Popovich's relationship is about the coolest in the league, and he's really the emotional leader of the team. All the other players on the Spurs constantly talk about how accepting and encouraging he's been to everyone that's played there. I love the way he rubs his team mates on the head & the way he hugs the ball before a game, like it's his teddy bear from childhood. He doesn't get mad, but I see it more as him being unflappable than as not having any emotion at all. The article seems a little mean-spirited.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:22 AM on May 12, 2009


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