When Peyton Manning needed a job, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time chose Denver.

Get this: Jarome Iginla, with 560 goals to his name, said he decided to join the Avalanche as a free agent because he loves the city as much or more than he likes a talented team's chances to win the Stanley Cup.

But, as far as basketball superstars are concerned, Denver is the armpit of the NBA universe.

Stink-ee.

What gives with the hoops hate for Colorado? Where is the Love? Or the LeBron? Did Melo and LaLa trash our fair city on TripAdvisor so badly that Denver can never again be a basketball destination?

"I think we've taken way too much of a defeatist attitude selling Denver as a basketball destination," said Tim Connelly, on the job as Nuggets general manager for a year. "The biggest challenge is getting more players to see Denver beyond the airport, the Pepsi Center and the Four Seasons. This city is amazing. And, I admit, I didn't know how amazing it was before I moved to Denver."

In league circles, Denver's name is mud. Or worse, it's viewed as next to Sacramento at the dead end of the league road.

Nothing against coach Brian Shaw or Connelly, but the Nuggets need a better basketball recruiter.

I've got the man for the job: Chauncey Billups.

At age 37, Billups is reluctant to hang up his sneakers, but his playing career is over. And what a career it was: 17 seasons, 15,802 points, NBA Finals MVP, five times named to the All-Star Game.

If you ask me, Billups belongs in the Hall of Fame.

And now it is time to bring the King of Park Hill home.

The Nuggets should make Billups an offer he can't refuse to become the team's assistant general manager if Connelly wants to begin painting the team in a better light.

The first duty for Billups would be to reshape and rebuild the image of Denver with players, coaches and executives throughout the league.

The Broncos hired quarterback John Elway, and he is one of the main reasons Manning picked Denver.

Iginla said his friendship with former Avalanche star and current team executive Joe Sakic played a significant role in Colorado being his first choice to land as a free agent.

Billups is basketball in Denver.

Josh and Stan Kroenke, who love hoops more than all the other sports in their empire, desperately want to bring the NBA championship to Denver.

But first they need to acknowledge the Nuggets have a problem. And it's much bigger than the $11.25 million salary wasted on the potential of 7-foot tall JaVale McGee, whose better at goofing on Twitter than playing center.

Only the guys stuck in Denver want to play basketball for the Nuggets.

First, Anthony dumped us.

General manager Masai Ujiri cashed in his executive of the year prize with the Nuggets, took the money, ran and didn't stop until he crossed the U.S. border clean into Toronto.

Andre Iguodala considered Denver a basketball outpost as bleak and cold as Fairbanks, Alaska. Heck, Iggy's heart was already in San Francisco even as he played a playoff series while wearing a Nuggets uniform against the Warriors in Oakland.

Put it this way: Doc Rivers would not have thought twice before dismissing Denver as a place to coach. Instead, Rivers went to work for Donald Sterling.

That's not right.

If Kevin Love won't even consider playing for the Nuggets, what the team needs is something far more powerful than the defense and professionalism of newly reacquired guard Arron Afflalo.

Billups owns a great basketball mind. He has the desire and the ability to build a champion as an executive.

What better place for Billups to do so than his hometown?

Mark Kiszla: mkiszla@denverpost.com or twitter.com/markkiszla