Chauncey Billups has concluded that 17 seasons is enough. After a stellar career, an NBA Finals MVP trophy with the Detroit Pistons, and two stints with his hometown Denver Nuggets (including a trip to the Western Conference Finals), Billups came to his decision rather suddenly. As he told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
"It's just time. I know when it's time. My mind and my desire is still strong. I just can't ignore the fact that I haven't been healthy for three years. I can try again and get to a point where I think I can go, but I just can't sustain. Me not being able to play the way that I can play, that's when you kind of know it's that time.
"It's just time. I'm happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me. I felt like I was equally as good to the game the way I played it and the way I respected it and the way I carried myself through the process."
Billups has spent a good deal of time nursing injuries the past three seasons, missing an average of nearly 62 games per year over that stretch. Chauncey had "a couple opportunities to play" again this season, but decided it was time to move on to other things. Billups was also asked by Yahoo Sports about his Hall of Fame chances upon retirement. Billups said:
"The Hall of Fame would be a big dream. It marks you down as one of the greatest players ever. It's not what I shot for, but that would absolutely be a dream. I know in my heart I had a Hall-of-Fame worthy career. If you look at most Hall of Famers, I don't know how many of them started off the way I started off and made it to the top."
"I don't know what will happen. I do feel I had a Hall-of-Fame career. But there have been a lot of Hall-of-Fame careers other than me."
Even given our local bias, Chauncey seems a no-brainer for HoF candidacy to many, and will now be coming home to Denver, where he and his family still reside. Billups has aspirations to be a part of an NBA front office (find him a spot quickly, please, Kroenkes), and also to do some television work and analysis, in addition to his charites, camps and business ventures.
Though it may not carry the impact it did when another star said it earlier this year for many, for a few of us it's even more impactful that Chauncey Billups is coming home.
Welcome back, Chauncey. Denver is awfully proud of who you are and what you've accomplished. Here's to an incredible career, and to many great adventures ahead.