For fans, the most painful part of the Carmelo Anthony trade was watching Chauncey Billups, a hometown hero who made no secret of his desire to stay in Denver, get dragged to New York in order to help fulfill Melo's big-time fantasies. Understanding that, Nuggets president Josh Kroenke (son of owner Stan) apologized to Billups and his family yesterday -- an unusual gesture, but one that probably won't heal all wounds.
Some basketball observers may have been surprised when more Nuggets loyalists lamented Billups' departure than Anthony's. After all, Melo's stat line is typically much more impressive than that registered by the former University of Colorado standout. But this reaction ignores the emotional component of fandom. Simply put, Billups is the kind of athlete who we see all too rarely these days. On the court, he's a terrific teammate willing to sacrifice his own glory in order to assist other players. Off it, he's a natural role model who truly cares about his city and consistently walks his talk.
Billups' knowledge of the game makes him a natural to become a head coach or a basketball executive when he's done playing -- and the Nuggets should absolutely make bringing him back under the franchise's umbrella a priority when that sad day comes. Until then, we'll continue to root for this particular Denver hero no matter what uni he's wearing.
Look below to watch a Denver Post video featuring highlights of the press conference featuring young Kroenke and executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri.
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