Long before Chauncey Billups was the MVP trophy wielding, big shot taker and playmaker on coach Larry Brown’s 2004 Detroit Pistons Championship team, he had a dark fade haircut, while rocking a part in the middle of his head.
The third pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Billups was a point guard who got to the basket with ease.
In the late 90s, Billups played in the NBA with the likes of John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Terrell Brandon, Kevin Johnson and Kenny Anderson.
This was the era before scoring point guards became the new normal with the likes of Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. “Dame Lillard reminds me of myself,” Billups once told me.
“I was never the athlete that Russell or Derrick was. I wish I was. I would say Dame Lillard, even before his injury, but Deron Williams reminds me a little of myself. CJ McCollum. Guys that play a certain pace that play with efficiency are guys that come to my mind.”
Asking for a friend: During his era, was Billups a point guard or a shooting guard?
“Well first of all, he was the third overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft so you know he had a high skill set,” Billups’ former Celtics teammate, Antoine Walker told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“But I think the thing that was great about Chauncey was that size; he was a big point guard, he could post up smaller guards, he could shoot the three – he became a better three-point shooter as his career went on…I think obviously he would have learned how to run the team because obviously we saw him being able do it. But it was so early to kind of tell what he was going to be; but we knew that he was going to be good and we had a lot of success early. I mean, we were a 15-win team and I think that next year we won like 36-37. So we doubled our wins, started to make improvements and he was a big part of that early on so I thought that he could’ve been great. But to say… right now is the big argument is should he be in the Hall of Fame or not.”
Billups played 17 NBA seasons with seven teams and averaged 15 points and 5 assists. Billups’ longest tenure was with the Detroit Pistons, where he played 482 of his 1,043 games.
A five-time NBA All-Star, Billups led the Pistons to every Eastern Conference Finals from 2003-2008. During that run, the Pistons won an NBA Championship over the Lakers super team of Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2004 and lost to the Spurs the following year in the 2005 NBA Finals.
Million Dollar Question: Is Chauncey Billups a Naismith Hall of Famer?
“It’s tough,” Antoine Walker tells Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“I mean, his resume is strong. I would have to say yes. It’s very hard to keep a guy who was Finals MVP, has a NBA Championship, who’s known for making a ton of clutch shots in his career; and besides probably from that little Boston episode, he’s been a solid to great player on every team that he’s been on. So you have to put that into consideration. I DEFINITELY believe that he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
The Pistons retired Billups’ jersey back in 2016; much to the delight of the Denver, Colorado native. “It was such an honor,” Billups told me.
“I just remember watching Isaiah [Thomas] and Joe [Dumars] and those Bad Boys just dominate. I never knew that I could make it to that level to one day have my jersey in the rafters and be neighbors with them in the arena. I never thought that was possible for me, so you could imagine how I feel.”