HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The true measure of a leader can be measured in both words and actions. And in Chauncey Billups, the Los Angeles Clippers have a leader who influences younger players on his own team as well as others.
In fact, words from Billups appear to have had significant influence on strengthening the case for one the Clippers’ Western Conference rivals where a certain free agent was concerned earlier this summer.
O.J. Mayo relied on advice from Billups when making his decision about signing with the Dallas Mavericks, a move that helped the Mavericks complete one of the better offseasons in the league.
Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com provides the details, which include a rousing endorsement from Billups of his former coach in Detroit and current Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle:
“He said (Carlisle) is a great coach for me to help expand my game,” Mayo said.
Billups, like Mayo now, was a No. 3 overall pick in his mid-20s who hadn’t lived up high-lottery expectations when he signed with the Carlisle-coached Pistons in the summer of 2002. Detroit was Billups’ fifth NBA team, and while he showed promise as a part-time starter the previous season in Minnesota, he had yet to prove he could be a premier point guard.
Carlisle gave Billups that opportunity in 2002-03, when he started for a 50-win team that advanced to the conference finals. That was the only season Carlisle coached Billups, but Billups gives Carlisle credit for helping him become a five-time All-Star and NBA champion who is now known as Mr. Big Shot.
Mayo hasn’t bounced around the league, having spent his entire four-year career with the Memphis Grizzlies, but he has a lot of similarities to the 2002 version of Billups. Mayo is a No. 3 overall pick whose career hasn’t progressed as anticipated.
Billups’ advice to Mayo: Let Carlisle coach you.
That’s exactly what Mayo has done. He arrived in Dallas a month ago specifically so he could work with Carlisle.
Mayo usually works on one specific weakness each summer. He’s worked on whatever Carlisle wanted recently.
“My whole thing is to give my game to Coach and let him help me get better in ways I can help the team,” Mayo said.
Mayo’s maturation process over the past couple of seasons has been steady. And there is no reason to believe that he won’t continue that ascent in Dallas, where he’ll be working alongside quality veteran players and playing for one of the best coaches in the game, but also in an organization that has developed an undeniable winning culture over the past decade 12 years.
But most impressive, from our perspective, is the way Billups advocated for his former coach. Carlisle and Billups only had one season together but it was clearly a career-altering experience for the veteran point guard.
If Mayo is on a similar trajectory at this stage of his career, then the relationship between the Mavericks and the young guard could indeed be a fruitful one for all involved.