If you don’t remember, a few years ago the Pistons were on the short list year end and year out for the NBA title. They were an elite team, fielding a squad that was built around defense and balanced scoring. Two concepts that might seem a tad foreign in today’s NBA.
Chauncey Billups was the leader and floor general for those Pistons teams, leading them to a NBA title in 2004 and leading them to another Finals appearance and numerous Conference Finals appearances. All that success was broken up though the day the Pistons traded Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson.
Billups is on the Clippers now, but reflected on the past as his team is in town to face the Pistons today.
Per The Detroit News: “Honestly in my heart, I still feel like if they didn’t make that move and move me, we’d still be an elite team in the league,” Billups said. “Of course you have to make some changes, (adding) the young guys.”
“I still had some great, great years left,” Billups said. “I never wanted to leave, even though I was home (Denver) and it was good to be home, I always wanted to be a Piston. I wanted to retire a Piston.”
It sounds like Billups still doesn’t understand why the trade happened, and even admitted so.
“I’m still … Even though I’m over it, I still don’t get it,” said Billups with a slight chuckle. “It wasn’t like I was 36 or 37 and I couldn’t rock anymore. I was still rocking. I was still in my prime.”
One might even wonder whether the relationship between Billups and Pistons executive Joe Dumars was fractured forever after the trade. They both commented on it.
“It’s always tough and always a strain when you first trade a guy,” Dumars said. “But Chauncey and I had such a good relationship while he was here, and we knew it wouldn’t be strained forever.”
Billups echoed Dumars sentiments.
“Me and Joe at one time were really tight. I can’t honestly tell you it’s still like that,” said Billups. “The trade, the way it was handled, led to the strain in the relationship. It’s cool now, though. We’ve talked about it now.”
Living in Metro Detroit around the time of the trade, I can honestly tell you people were shocked. Chauncey was probably the most beloved Piston of those championship level squads.
Looking at it from a true basketball perspective, the trade to this day still leaves me scratching my head. An aging Allen Iverson for an executive who made a career off of not building his team around one Superstar? It still puzzles me to this day.
And looking at where the Pistons are now, perhaps Chauncey has a point.