The last time Knicks fans saw Chauncey Billups hit the hardwood, it was to watch him limp away off the court (along with the team’s playoff hopes) during Game 1 of a first-round playoff matchup with the Celtics.
The injury to Billups (and the one that followed to Amar’e Stoudemire) has not sat well with fans. The excitement around the Knicks was at an all-time high after the team ended a seven year playoff drought. The chemistry level was rising and the Knicks finally seemed to be on the verge of making noise, potentially delivering an upset to an ever-aging and fatigued favorite, the Celtics.
Those hopes, however, crumbled, and the two injuries left everyone wondering what could have been, as well as what is to come.
The NBA lockout forces everyone to wait in vein just a little while longer, but fans can now rest assured that Chauncey Billups has seemed to get his groove back.
Billups, making his highly anticipated appearance in the Impact Basketball League in Las Vegas, exploded back onto the court to lead his team (which also features Knicks Iman Shumpert and Roger Mason Jr.) to a 137-131 victory Tuesday, while draining six three-point field goals on his way to an impressive 38 points.
Though he sat out the fourth quarter of competition due to a tweaked ankle, Billups insists he has conquered the injury that plagued him in the playoffs, telling SI.com‘s Chris Mannix, “The knee is great, finally. I’ve been back on the court for [about] three weeks and I’m feeling good. I’m just working myself back in shape now.”
What’s more, Billups also shares the sentiment with Knicks fans that injuries certainly left much to be desired from the team’s playoff run. He went on to add, “When I went down, I was still hoping I’d get back by the end of the series. I ended up being out for four months. “It was frustrating. I thought we could have pushed the Celtics. Hopefully, we get another chance.”
Whenever that chance will be, nobody knows. But one thing’s for sure; when the NBA season does begin, this Knicks team appears to be hungrier than ever. It’s good to see Billups, such an influential veteran and an NBA champion, seemingly ready to take charge to make things happen.
A bit to look forward to, here: when he does in fact don orange and blue again, Billups will be reunited with new assistant coach Mike Woodson, whom coached the Knicks’ point guard while the two were paired together on the Pistons.
Billups will certainly embrace the new (or ongoing, depending which way you look at it) desire for a stronger defensive presence in New York. He can actually begin building that foundation now, by giving rookie guard Shumpert some tips while the two spend time together in Vegas.