Chauncey Billups has been called a lot of endearing names throughout his basketball playing career — “Mr. Big Shot,” “The King of Park Hill” and “Smooth.”
Now, you can add another, “Colorado Sports Hall of Famer.”
Growing up and hooping it up in the Park Hill neighborhood, he took on all comers and usually beat them. At George Washington High School, he was named to all-state teams each of his four years and earned Colorado’s “Mr. Basketball” award three times. He was recruited heavily by traditional college basketball powers, but chose to stay in-state. Billups wanted friends and family to be able to see him play. And he wanted to help revive the moribund men’s program at the University of Colorado. He did just that. His sophomore season, Billups was named an All-American and led CU to the NCAA tournament. He also helped CU garner its first tournament win in 30 years — a first round upset of Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers.
Billups left CU after that sophomore season to enter the NBA draft. The Boston Celtics made him the third pick overall.
However, through his first five pro seasons, Billups was more NBA vagabond than NBA star. He played for four different teams those first five years. Coaches couldn’t decide if he was a point guard or a shooting guard. It left Billups frazzled, his career at a fork in the road.
Then, in his sixth NBA season, Billups found a home with the Detroit Pistons and he hit his stride. Under head coach Larry Brown, Billups became one of the best point guards in the league. In the 2003-04 season, the Pistons won the NBA title and Billups was named the NBA Finals MVP. It took a while, but Billups had finally reached NBA elite status. Billups served his second stint with the Nuggets from 2008-11, stabilizing the team and helping Denver rise to the Western Conference Finals.
He would have preferred to finish his career in his hometown, but was part of the trade in which the Nuggets sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.
Billups retired before the start of the 2014-15 season.
Altogether, he played 17 seasons in the pros. He was named an NBA all-star five times.
His career stats include a scoring average of 15.2 points per game, 5.4 assists per game and one of the best free-throw shooting percentages of all-time, 89.4%.
He’s the local kid who stayed local at every opportunity and made good. Real good. Chauncey
Billups truly has been Colorado’s “Mr. Basketball.”
This was a very big win, but we won’t know how big for a while.