The 5x All-Star, 2004 Finals Champion and MVP, and 2013 Teammate of the Year announced his retirement Monday (Sept. 8). After missing most of the 2013-14 season with knee problems, the Detroit Pistons decided not to pick up the team option on Billups.
Billups, a Colorado native, was drafted in the 1997 NBA draft as the third pick in the first round to the Boston Celtics. In his two year stint at the University of Colorado, Billups earned All-Big 12 Conference First Team and Basketball Times All-American First Team. He also led the to the school’s first win in an NCAA tournament in over thirty years. And as an athlete, who’s dream of turning pro, Billups values an education. On being asked about his time playing at the University of Colorado, Billups explained:
“I put my whole life into playing basketball. I started at 10 years old. My goal in middle school and high school was just to go to college. I didn’t feel like my parents could afford to send me to college. In fear of not achieving that goal, I had to work harder. I felt like basketball was my way of going to college.”
In 2004, the University of Colorado retired his number 4 jersey that he wore playing for the Buffaloes.
Over his NBA career Billups played for eight different teams, most notably the Detroit Pistons where he captured an NBA Championship. His NBA career average was 15 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game. Not too bad for a point guard. Billups ranks 6th of all-time for 3-pointers made and 39th for assists.
I cannot imagine the harsh reality of never playing in the NBA again. Being confronted with the fact that you will no longer be able to play the game that you love at the level that you’ve dreamed about since you were a child. All the years of hardwork and training. Dedication and sweat. Tears that were wept. Blood that was shed. The camaraderie of your teammates. For an athlete, retirement is not something that you look forward to.
Billups will be missed by the NBA. And he will miss playing in the NBA. But one must be optimistic with retirement. Because like they say…as one door closes another one opens.