- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Team USA’s most valuable player won’t be playing in this summer’s world championship, and it’s not Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett.

It’s Chauncey Billups.

USA Basketball czar Jerry Colangelo named the Detroit Pistons point guard to the 23-man roster Sunday, but Billups has parental obligations. He and his wife are expecting their third child in July, so he won’t make the trip to Japan in August.

Billups is making the three-year commitment to the team and plans to play in the 2008 Olympics, which is exactly what Team USA needs.

This team has plenty of stars. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade head the list.

But only Billups fills so many of this team’s needs after its international debacles in 2002 and 2004: exemplary teammate, pass-first point guard, clutch shooter, champion.

Only Billups has experience keeping everyone happy on a virtual All-Star team.

Steve Nash is Canadian.

Tony Parker is French.

Jason Kidd didn’t want to make a three-year commitment.

So the list of great point guards gets real thin real quick.

Allen Iverson was disappointed with his non-selection.

But Colangelo emphasized he is looking for team players, not All-Star talents.

Baron Davis was “shocked,” “appalled,” and “offended” by his non-selection. Colangelo’s explanation should be reiterated, along with Davis’ 39 percent shooting.

Gilbert Arenas, a combo guard who commits too many turnovers, did make the cut.

So did Chris Paul, who might just be America’s point guard of the future.

Luke Ridnour was the oddest selection, and the snubbed Kirk Hinrich must have noticed. Since the selections leaked out a week ago, the Jerry Sloan clone has averaged 25.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

Brad Miller is the team’s only true center, and he is a passing pivot man, well suited to the international game and its funny-looking lane.

Shaq, the team’s big question mark, has a standing invitation from Colangelo.

But the 7-foot-1 Diesel won’t make this team whole. Only Billups will.

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