Part of the allure that drew the Portland Trail Blazers to Chauncey Billups was that over the course of a decorated 17-year career, their coach proved capable of managing and relating too any role possible, from up-and-coming bench contributor to All-Star guard, and ultimately, a perennial Most Valuable Player candidate. In an article by Andscape’s Marc J. Spears, many of Billups’ peers, former teammates, and current players vouched for Billups amid a crowded potential 2023 Hall of Fame class.
This year’s grouping features multiple surefire first-ballot Hall of Famers, such as Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol. That could cloud Billups’ chances. As Spears notes, Billups has been eligible since 2018, though he’s never been a finalist.
Damian Lillard, another potential soon-to-be Hall of Famer, vouched for his head coach, citing the win-everywhere-he-goes argument as the approach:
“How can he not be in the Hall of Fame?” said Lillard, who was named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team. “Everywhere he went he won. He won an NBA championship. Finals MVP. He’s a five-time All-Star. Won the [FIBA] World Cup. Head coach now. He’s done everything. Why not?”
Spears hits on the main points that support Billups’ argument — the six consecutive appearances to the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA Finals victory in 2004 and subsequent Finals Most Valuable Award nod — and his reputation as a big-game, big-shot maker also supplant him among the top candidates. Alongside former Blazers guard Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace (a 2021 inductee), Richard Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince, Billups helped fuel one of the great NBA Finals upsets during that very 2004 season, largely through the then-guard’s leadership, grit, two-way play, and clutch ability.
On four different occasions, Billups was viewed as a top-12 candidate for the league’s regular season Most Valuable Player award.
Here’s how Billups responded when asked about induction into the Hall of Fame:
“It would mean a lot to me to be elected,” Billups said. “It would just, again, show me that the people that vote on Hall of Fame actually understand basketball and they understand impact. I’ve never been a stats person. I’m an impact person. How impactful can you be? What’s the use even right now as a coach? I say this all the time to my guys, ‘What’s the use of having all those great stats if they don’t help you win?’ ”
Despite never being a 20-point scorer, Billups’ reputation for being a floor general, unquestioned leader and proven winner dovetailed across multiple different teams: Detroit, Minnesota, Denver, and more. Spears offered that Portland could become the next of those teams as Billups transitions into his second year as a head coach.
“With my preparation, with just the flow of the game, the cadence of the games, just by way of having some experience,” Billups said. “You come into Year 1 not having a lot of coaching experience, one year as an assistant, so you don’t even know what you don’t know, a lot of times. Coming in Year 2, you do know what you don’t know, so it’s just a lot more comfortable understanding and knowing what I need to do on a particular practice day, or what we need to work on this day, or game day, or knowing a feel of what the team needs at that time. A lot of those things, it just feels better, just feels different this year.”
The rest of the article can be found here. Spears hits on Billups’ days prior to becoming an NBA star, his role as a minority head coach, and how his brother Rodney has played a role in his coaching journey.