Billups' camp focuses on big picture

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Chauncey Billups spent many hours during his younger years in basketball camps.

He now has his own camp, the Chauncey Billups Basketball Academy, which was held June 24-27 at the Parker Fieldhouse.

There were close to 500 youngsters, ages 6 through 17, who participated in the camp, according to director Marcus Mason.

Billups, the former standout at George Washington High School and the University of Colorado, and five-time National Basketball Association All-Star, was present at all sessions, and NBA players Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were featured on the first day of the camp.

“I grew up going to camps in my neighborhood of Park Hill,” said Billups. “I know my camp is a lot different from the one I went through.”

There were basketball drills and scrimmages, but also agility training, plus plenty of fun with Billups' money shot at the end of each of the two daily sessions split up by age.

“We do agility, footwork drills,” said Billups, who was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame June 27 during the National Federation of State High School Associations annual meeting in Denver. “People don't equate that to the sport. That is a very big piece of the sport. We never did anything like that at the basketball camps I went to.”

Billups would gather groups of players and talk for several minutes, and all the campers seemed to pay close attention.

“With the little ones, some of them are so small it's almost like day care,” said Billups. “What I wanted them to get out of the camp was an appreciation for basketball. Then one day, they'll fall in love with the game. It's just fundamentals at this point.

“The older kids are at an age where they were here because they really like basketball. You want to get them to the point where they can learn the real game of basketball. Not highlights, but the real game of basketball. That's what I tried to get across to the older kids.”

That was sometimes difficult.

“Yeah, they think it's all fun and games,” explained Billups. “They come, show up and just shoot the ball up as opposed to working hard, being a good teammate and being a fan of your team and not just yourself. There are a lot of different layers to this game and I don't think they realize.”

Billups, the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2004, also showed campers the reality of the NBA: that if you make big shots, you are rewarded.

He puts money on the floor and gives selected players a chance to pick up the money if they make the shot.

“The kids love the money shot,” admitted Billups. “My nickname is Mr. Big Shot. I wanted to give all the kids a chance to kind of know what it feels like to make the big shot, so we made up something called the money shot.

“I have $5, $10 or whatever it might be and put it on the spot. There is a team that is picked out. When we blow the whistle and say go, they do whatever they want to do and we pick a team, basically the loudest, most obnoxious or most creative.

“Every person on that team has a chance. If the first guy makes the shot and takes the money, I put more money down for the next guy. It's a favorite of the kids. It's not an easy shot for the little kids but a shot they can make. It's a little farther than a three-pointer for the big kids.”

Cody Brown, a student at Thunder Ridge Middle School in Aurora, benefited from the camp.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “I've been going to camps all around Colorado. I learned how to get my shot off better and play better defense. The agility was important. Speed and agility is the basics of basketball, and then strength comes along if you are in the post. We almost won a chance for the money shot but we didn't. You have to be the craziest to get a chance.”

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