By Ashley Dunkak
AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – During Chauncey Billups’ first stint with the Detroit Pistons, the team made it to at least the third round of the playoffs six straight years. They went to the finals twice and won a national championship in 2004. That was the team Billups was traded away from in 2008.
The Pistons lost in the first round of the playoffs after trading Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, and Detroit has not sniffed the postseason since.
Even though Billups has been away for a while, the current state of the franchise still makes him sad.
“This city and this organization is huge and rich in basketball tradition, and even with me being away on other teams that I’ve been on the last few years, I hate to see the Palace look the way it looks during games with nobody watching the games,” Billups said.
Many players nearing the end of their careers try to hook up with a championship contender, attempting to snag one last ring or two while riding the bench and contributing intermittently. Billups, 36, said that was not a priority for him. Helping fix the team he once helped make great mattered more.
“If I hadn’t ever won a championship and never experienced and accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish, then this move probably wouldn’t have been as attractive to me,” Billups admitted. “But I’ve done everything I wanted to do, so what’s important to me now is trying to get the place that I love back to respectability.”
In addition to signing Billups, the Pistons have brought back former Piston (and a member of the 2004 championship team) Rasheed Wallace as an assistant coach. Billups did not quite know what to do with that.
“Well. after laughing, thinking it was a joke … he’s one of the smarter players I ever played with, so I think his knowledge can help a lot of the young guys,” Billups said.
If nothing else, both moves give the team two individuals who are used to winning in Pistons uniforms.
“I’m really not good with losing and mediocrity,” Billups said.
“We’ve got die-hard Pistons fans here, and if you put out the effort and the pride that I want to try and instill back in this team, the Piston pride that we played with, I feel like people will come out and watch,” Billups added. “I just want to be a part of something really special, and I think this opportunity is going to give me the opportunity to do that.”