Damian Lillard Responds to Chauncey Billups Hire Criticism over 1997 Rape Allegation

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 26, 2021

PORTLAND, OR - JUNE 3: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on June 3, 2021 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard denied having knowledge of sexual assault allegations levied against Chauncey Billups before endorsing him to be the team's next head coach.

Lillard responded to two tweets on the matter, saying he was unaware that Billups had been the subject of a rape case 24 years ago:

Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard

Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less <a href="https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd">https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd</a>

Damian Lillard @Dame_Lillard

I said what I said family. <a href="https://t.co/uwgFRPS5zW">https://t.co/uwgFRPS5zW</a>

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that the Blazers were "progressing in contract talks" to make Billups their next head coach.

Earlier this month, Lillard told Jason Quick and Shams Charania of The Athletic that he supported both Billups and Jason Kidd as options to replace Terry Stotts as head coach of the Blazers.

Kidd removed himself from consideration and instead took the Dallas Mavericks' head coaching job, while all signs now point toward Billups landing his first NBA head coaching job in Portland.

Jack Winter of Sports Illustrated provided details regarding Billups' rape case Saturday, noting that Billups denied having non-consensual sex with a woman known only as Jane Doe. Billups was not charged with a crime, and he settled a civil lawsuit.

Per Winter, the woman was described as then-Boston Celtics star Antoine Walker's "on-again, off-again girlfriend" at the time of the alleged sexual assault on Nov. 9, 1997.

Billups said the only sexual activity he engaged in with the woman was consensual oral sex in his car, but the woman said Billups and Celtics teammate Ron Mercer performed unwanted sexual acts on her at Walker's condo. She said one of Walker's friends forced her to perform oral sex on him as well.

The woman said she blacked out during the assault and woke up naked in bed with one of Walker's friends with condom wrappers and used condoms on the floor.

She later went to the Boston Medical Center where injuries to her throat, cervix and rectum were discovered.

After settling a civil case with the woman, Billups went on to star with the Detroit Pistons and Denver Nuggets, earning five All-Star nods and winning a championship in Detroit.

The 44-year-old Billups entered the coaching ranks this season, serving as an assistant with the Clippers under Ty Lue. Billups and the Clippers currently trail the Phoenix Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals.

If Billups finalizes a deal to become head coach of the Blazers, he will be Portland's first new head coach since the hiring of Stotts in 2012.