• Chauncey Billups was named the recipient of the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award yesterday, according to the NBA.
Here is part of the press release:
As part of its support for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, the NBA will make a $25K donation to the charity of Billups’ choice. A panel of NBA Legends nominated six players from each conference for the award, which recognizes the NBA player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and his commitment and dedication to his team.
A five-time NBA All-Star selection, Billups led the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 title, garnering Finals Most Valuable Player honors. The 16-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 15.4 points and 5.5 assists. He completed his second season with the Clippers in 2012-13, returning from a torn left Achilles tendon and overcoming various injuries to appear in 28 games, including all six postseason games.
“Chauncey Billups defines what this award was designed to recognize, a player committed to his club, his teammates and his community,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern, who presented Billups with the award Sunday prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami. “He has mentored and guided countless young players to adopt his selfless attitude, dedication, passion for our game and to respect the history and example of players like Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes.”
In this year’s award voting, Billups totaled 1,543 total points, including 64 first-place votes. Miami Heat forward Shane Battier finished second with 1,324 points (79 first-place votes), and New York Knicks guard Jason Kidd placed third with 1,048 points (42 first-place votes).
• Today, however, Billups went on the ESPN show First Take and had some choice words to say about teammate Blake Griffin, per ESPN.com (video below):
“I don’t agree that Blake Griffin is soft. But what I will say about Blake is that he’s maybe too nice of a guy,” Billups said. “Because there’s been times in games where people take shots at Blake. And I tell him if that’s me, you’re going to have to take this two- or three-game suspension, and I’m going to punish somebody.
“That’s just how I’m built. Blake is not really built like that. He’s … too soft of a guy inside for him to be like, ‘All right, I’m just going to hurt somebody.’ He just won’t do it. I wish he would, and I think that people would look at him a lot different if he did that. But he’s just not that kind of person.”
Billups said “there’s nobody that works harder” than Griffin, but the three-time All-Star would benefit if the Clippers were able to add “a veteran down low to help him … to push him along a little faster.”
While I don’t think Billups meant to publicly criticize Griffin, it’s ironic that less than 24 hours after winning Teammate of the Year, he goes on national television and says Griffin is “too nice of a guy” and “too soft of a guy inside”. He didn’t explicitly blast Griffin, and denied the “soft” label, but it’s not as if he was exactly singing his praises outside of the work ethic compliment.
It’ll be interesting to see what the ramifications will be, especially considering Billups’ pending free agency and the hesitance with which he spoke about returning to the Clippers. If anything, it seems the reported locker room divide is a little more clear (just look at the last line).
• Billups is reportedly interested in joining the Heat, according to Fox Sports Florida.
• Over at ESPN Los Angeles, I wrote about the Clippers’ coaching search and who I feel the three best candidates are.
• Jimmy Kimmel has a segment on his show called “Mean Tweets.” Below is his “Mean Tweets — NBA Edition”, featuring some hilarious segments from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Matt and DeAndre Jordan.
• The Rockets, along with the Mavericks, have plans of pursuing Chris Paul this offseason.
• Speaking of Paul, he played golf over the weekend with President Bill Clinton.