All quotes via Yahoo! Sports
After 17 years in the NBA, Chauncey Billups, former Los Angeles Clippers point guard, is calling it quits, revealing his decision in an interview with Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
“It’s just time. I’m happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me,” said Billups to Yahoo! Sports. “I felt like I was equally as good to the game the way I played it and the way I respected it and the way I carried myself through the process.”
Claimed off amnesty waivers in the December of 2011, Billups–averaging 17.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game the previous season with the New York Knicks–was expected to put a Clippers team that featured Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in their second season together over the top as they hoped to contend for a championship. A combo guard in the truest form, Billups gained the reputation of consummate pro and all-around, do-everything player, the perfect fit to go alongside Paul in the frontcourt.
Unfortunately, Billups’ body betrayed him in the worse way, creating the snowball effect health-wise that played a key part in Billups deciding to walk away from the game.
“I’m happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me,” – Chauncey Billups on retiring from the NBA
“My mind and my desire is still strong. I just can’t ignore the fact that I haven’t been healthy for three years. I can try again and get to a point where I think I can go, but I just can’t sustain. Me not being able to play the way that I can play, that’s when you kind of know it’s that time.”
Two months after signing with Los Angeles, Billups tore his left achilles, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season. At age 35, the achilles tear is often looked at as a death sentence, but Billups pushed off retirement and vowed to return a better player.
And return he did.
Re-signed to a one-year deal in 2013, Billups continued rehab to make better of his promise to return, eventually doing so on November 28 (scored 7 points in 19 minutes of playing time). Unfortunately, the injuries continued, less severe than before but detrimental to he and the Clippers–it eventually became the face of controversy as many pulled for Eric Bledsoe to start over Billups alongside Paul.
Finally making it to the playoffs with the Clippers, Billups’ on-and-off play hurt the teams chances against the Memphis Grizzlies. Scoring a combined 25 points in games 1 and 3, Billups would muster up a total of 12 points in the other four games, one of the many reasons why the Grizzlies eliminated the Clippers in 6 games.
Billups won’t be remembered for his time with the Clippers, but the way he carried himself carried over from Detroit and New York as many expected his playing to do.
To many, Billups will always be a Detroit Pistons. Apart of the early 2000s squad that appeared in back-to-back NBA Finals, Billups will always be remembered as “Mr. Big Shot”, a nickname earned due to his knack for showing up in the clutch and for the Pistons’ 2004 Finals victory in which Chauncey Billups was named Finals MVP, the first point guard to win the award since Isiah Thomas did it with the club in 1990 and one of the seven point guards to achieve the feat in NBA history (Parker, Billups, Thomas, Johnson (M), Johnson (D), White, West).
You don’t achieve that by being a run-of-the-mill player. Through hard work and perseverance bouncing around the league before settling in Detroit in 2002 to kick off a legacy many didn’t possibly see ahead of him, Billups turned himself a player revered by many and an All-Star (four-time to be exact) and, if voters see fit, a NBA Hall of Famer.
“The Hall of Fame would be a big dream”
“The Hall of Fame would be a big dream,” Billups said. “It marks you down as one of the greatest players ever. It’s not what I shot for, but that would absolutely be a dream.”
Billups may not be done with the NBA yet. In the foreseeable future, Billups could find himself in someones front office or on someones bench as an assistant coach a la Sam Cassell who became an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards immediately after retiring. Earlier this summer, Billups was connected heavily with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in talks to possibly join David Blatt’s bench.
Wherever he decides to go and whatever he decides to do, there’s no doubt Billups will succeed in the same manner he did on the NBA court: with class.
“I have always said I had a desire to work in a front office somewhere or also do TV commentating or studio work. Those are the things I desire the most. But at the moment I’ll enjoying taking it easy. We’ll see where it leads.”
It’s been an excellent career for Billups–even if his stint with the Clippers didn’t play out as expected. Here’s to good wishes the rest of his life plays out the same.