On Monday, Chris Paul paid a visit to Chauncey Billups’ basketball camp, and working with children is something he enjoys greatly.
“It’s great,” Paul said. “It’s fun (working with kids) and that’s why you do camps like this. Chauncey is just like me; he loves kids. I have a son of my own who loves Chauncey to death. To come here and interact with these kids is something that’s fun and truly inspiring.”
Billups has always been a giving player, and is especially generous in his home-state.
“I’ve been having camps forever,” said Billups, 35. “I’ve played 15 years (in the NBA) and I’ve only played in Denver four or five of them. But I don’t let me playing in Denver affect what I do for the community that I love and care about. I’m a Denver dude. I’m always going to be a Denver guy and there’s nothing that’s going to change that. I do the camps because I enjoy it. I enjoy working with young kids. I know how much I enjoyed going to basketball camps, so it’s just something that I enjoy to do.”
Paul has the alterior motive, but it is a motive that is imbued with respect for Chauncey’s leadership on and off the court. Billups is an unrestricted free agent and there are questions whether he and Paul will be in the same back court next season.
“He knows my top priority right now is to make sure he’s back with us again next season,” Paul said. “That was the best backcourt mate I played with since I’ve been in the NBA. He just gave me so much confidence and made things so much easier for me. So I need him back and want him back.”
Billups tore his Achilles tendon 20 games into the season, and the Clippers were 15-7 with Billups starting at shooting guard. Billups said he’s ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and should be totally healthy when training camp rolls around. The former NBA Finals MVP averaged 14.9 points and 4.0 assists last year before his injury.
“I liked it a lot (in Los Angeles), but of course I would be crazy not to entertain any other offers that I might have,” Billups said. “That’s the fun of being a free agent.”
Paul considers Billups a mentor, especially after their time on Team USA together, and called playing with him last season “the best thing ever.”
“I tell people all the time had Chauncey not got injured, we were going to win the championship,” Paul said.
How does Paul feel his second recruitment of Billups?
“I think it’s going well,” Paul said. “The top priority now is to get him healthy. I think that was the toughest thing for me. When he got injured, I was messed up because I know how hard he works and how much he loves to play. It feels a lot better now because I know how hard he’s been working and I know he’s going to be back.”
If any NBA star deserves to pick his next work place it is Billups. He has been traded four times in his career and got put on waivers by the New York Knicks last year. For Chris Paul’s sake, let’s hope he remains a Clipper, but let us also not begrudge Mr. Big Shot the chance to choose where his next big shot comes from.