Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups is experiencing plenty of adjustments during his first year coaching at the NBA level. This week, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports detailed some of those adjustments, and how Billups is negotiating the rough waters of an 11-15 start in an injury-filled season, falling well below expectations.
One of the key challenges for any coach, particularly in Season 1, is how to communicate with players. This is especially true with a relatively-inexperienced Billups talking to a veteran, star-centered lineup with the likes of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum heading the rotation.
Billups’ propensity to “call out” his team from the press podium—sometimes citing lack of effort—has been questioned. According to Haynes, it’s an approach Billups characterizes as “tough love”.
I owe it to these dudes to coach them. So I don’t see it that way like I’m calling them out,” Billups told Yahoo Sports. “I’m not going to be on the podium calling names. I’ll do that in person with the guys. But on the podium, I’ll generalize. I’ll say, ‘Listen, we got to be better or we didn’t compete.’ I’m not going to call anybody’s name, and I’m not going to disrespect any of my guys because I care too much and I know how that feels. But, I owe it to them to be honest and to coach them. And I only know one way to do that, and that’s just with honesty.
“Sometimes dudes don’t love that, but I think if you really want to win and you really want to do it right and be a good teammate, you can respect my approach.
Haynes quotes Lillard in support of Billups and his tactics:
“He speaks his mind, and you respect that,” franchise point guard Damian Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “And I think it’s important that he does so. He’s seen it all.”
Haynes also describes Billups’ philosophy on when and how to speak with players, particularly his self-imposed prohibition on approaching players directly after games, a habit he learned from one of his former coaches, NBA legend Flip Saunders.
Haynes also affirms Billups’ enthusiasm for the process, despite the rocky start:
“The positives are this: I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do,” Billups told Yahoo Sports. “I’m coaching, and I’m really loving that. It reminds me of the start of my actual playing career.”
The article is well worth a read for those who want a candid look at Billups’ enthusiasm for the job and his style.