When the Detroit Pistons won the NBA championship in 2004, they did it by “playing the right way.” That was Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown’s catch phrase and it meant teamwork above individualism, hard work above complacency. No player on that unselfish Pistons team exemplified those qualities better than Chauncey Billups, the powerful point guard who ran the team on the floor and tended to play well in the clutch. It was a tendency that earned Billups the nickname Mr. Big Shot, for having hit so many of them. He’d found a home playing the team style in Detroit after a few false starts early in his career. Billups was the third pick in the 1997 NBA draft.
Billups retired on Tuesday after 17 seasons, saying “It’s just time.” Fans will miss him. But not as much as the league and some of the players will. Billups was one of the NBA’s top ambassadors. Chris Paul, the LA Clippers all-star point guard and former Billups teammate wrote on Instagram that Paul “showed me what it means to be a professional and to ALWAYS help the next guy coming up behind you. One of the highlights of my career was the night that I found out I would get to play along side of Chaunce! I could go on and on talkin about this guy but I’ll end by saying THANK YOU BIG SHOT!!!”