Chauncey Ray Billups (born September 25, 1976) is an American professional basketball guard who last played for the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A star at the University of Colorado, he was chosen third overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics.
A 5-time NBA All-Star and a 3-time All-NBA selection, Billups has played for the Celtics, the Toronto Raptors, the Denver Nuggets, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Detroit Pistons, the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Team USA. He won the NBA Finals MVP in 2004, helping the Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, and was given the nickname "Mr. Big Shot" for making late-game shots with Detroit.
In 2004, Billups was honored by the University of Colorado by being the fifth player to have his jersey (number 4) retired.
- 1 High school
- 2 College
- 3 NBA career
- 4 All-star appearances
- 5 NBA statistics
- 6 National team
- 7 Personal life
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Born in Denver, Colorado, Billups graduated from George Washington High School of Denver in 1995. At G.W. he was a four-time All-State first team pick, Colorado Mr. Basketball three times, and Colorado Player of the Year as a sophomore and as a junior. He started on varsity as a freshman. He was selected to the 1995 McDonald's All-American Team but did not play due to a shoulder injury.
Billups chose Colorado over Kansas, Georgia Tech, University of California-Berkeley and Oklahoma State. At Colorado, Billups averaged 18.5 points per game over his two seasons. In the 1996–97 season he was named to the All-Big 12 Conference First Team and the Basketball Times All-American First Team. That same year Billups led the Buffaloes to their first NCAA tournament victory in over thirty years, 80–62 over Indiana.
The Coors Events Center now has a large mural of Billups.
Early years (1997–2002)
Billups was drafted third overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. He did not mesh with new Celtics head coach Rick Pitino. Years later, Billups reflected on his stint his Boston, commenting, "That didn't help. That didn't give me a chance to really slow down and listen to myself, listen to the game and what's going on. I never really had that chance. It was a recipe for disaster there." In addition, the Celtics coaching staff did not know whether to play him as a point guard or shooting guard. Fifty-one games later, Billups was traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for All-Star point guard Kenny Anderson on the last day of the 1997-98 NBA trading deadline. After a few months, Billups then played for his hometown Denver Nuggets, who traded him to the Orlando Magic. He was on the injured list until season's end due to an injured shoulder and never played a game for Orlando (he was included on the season-ending team photo, wearing jersey number 2). Among NBA circles, Billups was considered a draft bust.
Billups was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves as a back-up to then point guard Terrell Brandon, who would mentor the troubled player alongside Sam Mitchell and Kevin Garnett. The two would work on shooting, scouting, decision-making and the other attributes that came with playing point guard in the NBA.
During the 2001-02 season, Brandon suffered a serious knee injury. Billups replaced him and had a breakthrough 2001–02 season. Timberwolves won 50 games before they were swept by Dallas in Round 1 of the playoffs, with Billups averaging 22 points per game in the series.
Detroit Pistons (2002–2008)
After his breakthrough season, Billups became a free agent. Billups had wanted to return to Minnesota, however the Timberwolves were engulfed in salary-cap issues and wanted to see how Brandon would respond to his knee injury.
In June 2002, Billups signed a six-year, $35 million contract with the Detroit Pistons to be the team's new starting point guard. When he signed with the Pistons, he was forced to take the number 1 because number 4 was retired in honor of Joe Dumars. Billups quickly earned respect from Pistons fans and colleagues for his tenacious defense and clutch shooting. He helped Detroit win the 2004 NBA Finals over the Los Angeles Lakers, four games to one. He averaged 21 points and 5.2 assists per game during the series to earn the NBA Finals MVP Award.
The following season, Billups was named to the 2005 NBA Second All-Defensive Team, along with teammate Tayshaun Prince, while teammate and co-captain of the Pistons Ben Wallace took home the Defensive Player of the Year Award. The Pistons reached the 2005 NBA Finals but lost in their bid to repeat as champions to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games.
In 2006, Billups was co-captain of the team. Although he captained the Pistons to a franchise best 64–18 record, they failed to make it to the NBA Finals for the first time in three years. He also led the league in assist-to-turnover ratio.
On July 11, 2007, Billups signed a $46 million, four-year contract with the Pistons (which includes a team option for a fifth year at $14 million). He had been an unrestricted free agent for several days after he opted out of the previous contract, which he had signed in 2002.
Through his six years with Detroit, Billups made six straight conference championship series, two NBA finals, and won an NBA Championship. He was an All-Star three times, made the all-NBA team three times and All-Defensive second team twice.
Return to Denver Nuggets (2008–2011)
On November 3, 2008, Billups was traded to the Denver Nuggets, along with Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb, for Allen Iverson. Pistons GM Joe Dumars said that was "the hardest and toughest" move he had made as a general manager, describing Billups as "... a guy that I have looked at as a little brother."
Billups chose the number 7 jersey to honor Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, since two of his other favorite numbers, 1 and 4, were already worn by J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, respectively. He played his first game of the Nuggets' 2008–09 season on November 7, 2008. He recorded 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes of play in a 108–105 Nuggets' home win. He finished the season averaging 17.7 ppg, and 6.4 apg.
With Billups and Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets accomplished a number of franchise milestones. Their 54–28 record matched the most wins the franchise had gotten since their induction in the NBA, their 27–14 start was also a record for wins in the first half of a season. This also marked the first time in the franchise's history the team had gotten 50 wins in back-to-back seasons. They led the Northwest division for much of the season, eventually winning the division and gaining the number two seed in the Western Conference, matching the highest the team had ever been seeded for the playoffs. In the first round, they defeated the New Orleans Hornets in 5 games, which included a record-equaling 58-point margin-of-victory. Billups also set a Nuggets franchise record with the most 3 pointers in a playoff game with 8, and his 19 3-pointers in total is also a Nuggets record for 3s made in a playoff series. Billups averaged 22.6 ppg, 7.4 apg, and 3.8 3PM in that series. In his first year with the Nuggets, Billups led them back to the NBA Conference Finals for the first time since 1985. This was Billups' 7th straight conference finals. He joined Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kurt Rambis as the only players to accomplish this feat since the Boston Celtics of the 1950s and 1960s led by Bill Russell. Billups finished the season sixth in voting for the 2009 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. He received six fourth place votes and totaled 33 points. He was also selected to his second All-NBA Third Team.
For the 2009–10 season, Billups reverted to wearing No. 1, the same number he wore with the Detroit Pistons. Teammate J.R. Smith, who had previously worn No. 1 since being acquired by the Nuggets in 2006, changed to the No. 5 jersey. On November 27, 2009, in the Nuggets' 128–125 win over the New York Knicks, Billups scored 32 points while teammate Carmelo Anthony scored 50. This made them only the third duo in NBA history to score at least 30 and 50 points respectively. On February 5, 2010, Billups set a career high in points with a 39 point performance in a road win over the Los Angeles Lakers with 27 of them coming from 9 three-pointers. During the 2010-11 season as a Nugget, he averaged 16.5 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 2.5 rebounds per game in 32.3 minutes per game. His .441 three point field goal percentage was a career high. He played 51 games with the team that season.
New York Knicks (2011)
Despite publicly professing his desire to finish his career in hometown Denver and retire as a Nugget, Billups was traded to the New York Knicks on February 22, 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal. Billups was "collateral damage"—as more than one sportswriter put it—of Carmelo Anthony's desire to play in New York and the Nuggets' desire to trade Anthony before he became a free agent. "Oh it was hard, hardest thing I've ever had to do," Billups said. "I had to tell my girls that daddy was traded, that he was leaving to play across the country. I told them it wasn't my choice, that nothing could be done about it. I had to go. It wasn't a happy scene." During the 2010-2011 season as a Knick, he averaged 17.5 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, and 3.1 rebounds per game in 31.6 minutes per game. He played 21 games with the Knicks.
The New York Knicks finished 42-40 and clinched the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Billups suffered a knee injury while playing against the Celtics in Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The injury would keep Billups sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.
Shortly after the Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, Billups mentioned he would love to return to the Knicks next season. "I would love the opportunity to really try it up with these guys," Billups said. "Not like play 30 games after a trade, like really have a season. Have an opportunity to really get a fair shake with these guys. I would love to." In December, 2011, the Knicks used their amnesty clause on Billups, and put him on waivers, ending his tenure as a Knick.
Los Angeles Clippers (2011–2013)
After his tenure with the Knicks came to an end, Billups became an unrestricted free agent. Many believed that a contender like the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Lakers would end up acquiring Billups. However, on December 12, 2011, the Los Angeles Clippers claimed Billups off waivers. Billups indicated that he didn't want to be picked up by a team that was not contending for a championship and said he would retire if he was, pushing the NBA to warn him and his agent that he would be "in breach of his contract" if he did not show up. However, the Clippers ended up trading for the Hornets' superstar point guard Chris Paul two days later. After the Chris Paul trade, Billups said that he was happy to be with the Clippers, saying that "I think these guys are ready to take the next leap and hopefully I can help with that".
Billups, a point guard, was moved into the shooting guard position, which he was still getting used to when he was injured. On February 7, 2012, an MRI revealed a tear in Billups's Achilles tendon, ending his season and only appeared in 20 games. Billups helped the Clippers beat Miami, Oklahoma City, Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers en route to a 19–9 start.
On July 13, 2012, Billups re-signed with the Clippers on a 1 year deal. He made his season debut on November 28, 2012, against the Timberwolves. Billups was limited to only 22 games during the season because of various injuries, including a sore back and tendinitis in his left foot.
On June 10, 2013, Billups received the inaugural Twyman–Stokes Teammate of the Year Award. Billups was humbled by the award, and said, "For my name to be mentioned with [Jack Twyman], I really don't feel worthy, to be honest with you. It's kind of embarrassing." During the 2012-13 season, Billups averaged a new career high free-throw percentage. He became a free agent after the season.
Return to Detroit Pistons (2013–2014)
On July 16, 2013, Billups signed a two-year, $5 million contract to return to the Detroit Pistons. More knee problems caused him to miss most of the 2013–14 season, as he appeared in his fewest games since the 1999–2000 season and averaged career lows in points, minutes, steals, FG%, and 3P% during the year. The Pistons finished the season at 29-53, and missed the postseason.
In 2006, Billups was selected to play in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game as a reserve for the Eastern Conference, along with former teammates Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace. Pistons head coach Flip Saunders coached the Eastern Conference squad and put all four Pistons in the game when the east was falling behind; they were able to get the Eastern All-Star team back in the game.
In the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, Billups was chosen as a reserve, along with teammate Richard Hamilton, for the Eastern Conference, despite an injury that kept Billups out of five games early on in the season. Billups also took part in the Shooting Stars Competition alongside former Piston and Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer and Shock star Swin Cash. Team Detroit won the competition with Billups hitting the final half-court shot.
Billups was selected to play as a reserve in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, along with teammates Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, an injury replacement. Billups was the only Nugget to be selected to the 2009 NBA All-Star Game.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
On March 5, 2006, Billups was selected to be a part of the 2006–2008 USA Men's Senior National Team program developed to restore Team USA back to the top of the basketball world after disappointments in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. After missing out in the 2006 FIBA World Championship due to personal reasons, on August 20, 2007, Billups was selected to be a part of Team USA that competed at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, a qualifying tournament for the Beijing Olympics. Coming off the bench, he along with the other new members of the team including All Star Kobe Bryant helped USA go unbeaten at the tournament held in Las Vegas and earn a spot at next Summer Olympics. On June 17, 2008, Billups announced he would not compete for a spot to be on the Olympic squad stating family reasons though he did say "they'll be fine. And when they win the gold, I'll feel like I had a big hand in regaining our dominance because of what we did last summer." During the tournament, Team USA went unbeaten on their way to their first gold medal since the 2000 Olympics, defeating Spain in the final.
Billups has a wife, Piper, and three daughters, Cydney, Ciara, and Cenaiya. His friend, NBA player Kevin Garnett, is the godfather to Ciara. His younger brother, Rodney, was a point guard for the University of Denver, and was recently drafted in the NBA Development League. He is the first cousin of running back LenDale White.
Billups wore the #4 through high school and college and at times during his professional career because he idolized former Pistons guard Joe Dumars, the Pistons President of Basketball Operations during his time at Detroit. His favorite NFL team is the Denver Broncos.
Billups was featured on the cover of the video game NBA Ballers: Phenom and is the player's mentor.
- List of National Basketball Association players with 1000 games played
- List of National Basketball Association career assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career 3-point scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career free throw scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff 3-point scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff free throw scoring leaders
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