Thursday, February 24, 2011

Home for 'Melo Proves Different Road for Billups

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Carmelo AnthonyNEW YORK -- Upon request, Chauncey Billups smiled a few times, gave it up for the screaming photographers and giddy PR flacks. Mostly he dug his fingernails into his palms, fidgeted, bit his bottom lip and looked mighty uncomfortable. Carmelo Anthony's wingman appeared to wish he were anywhere but here.

A few feet away, at a hastily cleared table, there sat New York's newest royalty -- La La Vazquez, reality star vixen and wife of Carmelo, and Kiyan, their adorable toddler son, and whenever the boy called out, "Da Da!" you could almost hear Billups' heart break a little bit more.

It's so easy to shrug off the human element, the collateral damage, especially when the people involved rake in more money than most of us could make in nine lives. The dream Anthony plotted and shrewdly orchestrated came to fruition Wednesday, as he bid Denver adieu, pulled on a New York Knicks uniform and embraced Broadway stardom. Good for him, coming home in such dramatic fashion, good for La La and the VH1 cameras already trailing her; good for Knicks fans salivating in their Garden seats.

Billups? He's the wild card in the mega blockbuster, three-club trade that shook the Nuggets and shredded a Knicks team that was entertaining and energetic and built to survive, maybe, the playoffs' first round. Billups has been around and around the block -- Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, Denver again and forevermore, or so he hoped -- and he graciously said all the right things about being excited for the challenge, and admitted it would be silly to break up the cohesiveness he and Anthony share.

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