1:32 AM EST, February 27, 2013
I'm going to gush here, the local columnist going homer on you again as I do so often.
Obviously I won't be writing about the Lakers.
Instead this is going to be an ode to a great friendship, and how two incredible players would rather praise each other than talk about themselves.
So no way this could have anything to do with the Lakers.
But as inviting, competitive and cool as I've been telling everyone that I find Chris Paul, I just spent time with his twin, Chauncey Billups.
Together they accounted for 15 assists in the first half Tuesday night, setting up nine slams for Lob City. It's about time folks here had some fun at a basketball game again.
Paul fed Blake Griffin on three consecutive rim rattlers to close out the first half and everyone was on their feet while DeAndre Jordan dunked off a behind-the-back pass from Billups.
The slam fest would continue in the second half with a Paul pass to Griffin and a left-handed jam so good that Griffin's teammate Caron Butler just stood there with raised hands clapping like everyone else in the joint.
Once again the Clippers have hit stride, Billups making his 10th start after recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon, and yes, he makes that much difference.
Billups is a star, oozing with experience and poise, Mr. Big Shot, a NBA Finals MVP for an NBA champion, and he's talking about the best player on the team like it's just taken for granted everyone knows it's Paul.
"He is," Billups insists. "I had my 15 minutes; he's in the moment now."
Paul, meanwhile, talks in reverential tones about Billups like he might be a blood relative donating him a kidney.
Kobe and Dwight might make for better column fodder.
But Paul, Billups and Griffin have the Clippers mentioned in the same sentence as this season's NBA championship contenders and that's man-bites-dog material.
If you recall, Paul was headed to the Lakers and Billups was wanting to go anywhere but to the Clippers.
"I was very reluctant about this situation only because of what the Clippers used to be," Billups said.
"I'm a winner, and I want to win at any cost and I don't have 10 more years to play. I want to take advantage of my years. And what I thought the Clippers were, I wanted no part of."
Paul, meanwhile, never complained when shifted from the Lakers to the Clippers before last season. And knowing what we know now, wasn't he clairvoyant?
Paul said he was excited about the chance to play with Billups, but he never expected it to happen. "He's a point guard too," Paul said.
But a lot happened. Billups had the Clippers' front office explain their vision, and then to demonstrate what kind of guy he is, Billups accepted the role of shooting guard.
"If Chris isn't here, I probably don't do it," Billups said.
As a point guard the 6-foot-3 Billups was bigger than most, allowing him to overpower opponents and direct his team's play. He was one of the best in the game.
But as a shooting guard, "the guy I'm playing against is usually bigger now than me," Billups said. "And I don't have the ball in my hands."
Yet it works, and so obviously these are not your Lakers.
Now if the Clippers want to make sure Paul re-ups this off-season, first they'd best extend a contract offer to Billups to guarantee he's not going anywhere.
"Having Chauncey on the court gives me much more confidence and the chance sometimes to work without the ball while he plays point guard," Paul said. "That makes the game that much more fun."
Billups went down last February with the Achilles' injury, and for awhile it appeared Paul was more hurt than Billups.
Everyone else, meanwhile, wondered if Billups might recover at age 36.
"Not me," Billups said. "I knew the battle I was in for, but I also know my work ethic and how much I wanted to play again. And I wasn't going to end my career being carried off the court."
He might want to rethink that if the Clippers go on to write one of the most improbable stories in sports and win a championship.
As dinky as he might be, but knowing his admiration for his friend, I would fully expect to see Paul carrying Billups off the court in victory.
Just as long as they return together.
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