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Chauncey: Your Neighborhood Pal

For a guy who has been one of the league's top point guards for the last few years as well as an NBA Finals MVP, we certainly give Chauncey Billups his share of flak around here.

That said, Billups largely brought it on himself over the last year with his constant condescension about opponents on the heels of his awful performance in last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

But if we're going to hammer Billups whenever he says something a bit odd, it seems only fair to honor the man for his latest achievement.  Good news for Celtics fans is that this one came off the court.

From an NBA.com press release:

Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons is the 2007-08 recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The award is named for the second commissioner of the league and honors an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Billups won the award for his charity work in Detroit and his hometown of Denver.

The 10-year veteran has also supported Why Can’t I Go? (WCIG) the past seven years. Through WCIG, whose mission is to provide students the opportunity to learn through diverse traveling experiences, Billups flies a group of 20-30 underprivileged youth from the Minneapolis area to one Pistons game every year, providing tickets for them and meeting with the entire group after the game.

Billups’ main charitable effort in Denver continues to be his involvement in the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy with Regis University, an academic camp that readies kids for college. Billups takes part in a three-week camp each summer with students, promoting leadership, critical thinking, team work and conflict resolution skills. 

Nice work, Chauncey.

Sadly, it becomes all too easy sometimes to forget that no matter how much we may like or dislike these guys on the basketball court, we're all human beings first and foremost.  Piston or otherwise, it's excellent to hear that Billups is doing his part to help various communities. 

I'll still be rooting against the man every night in the playoffs, of course, but it's always nice to know the players care about what's going on around them.