Chauncey Billups Retires from NBA After 17-Year Career

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2014

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Chauncey Billups, who was named Finals MVP after leading the Detroit Pistons to an NBA championship in 2004, has retired following a 17-year career.

Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears had the news from Billups:

Chauncey Billups, the 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and former Detroit Pistons star, told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday he is retiring after 17 NBA seasons.

'It's just time. I know when it's time,' Billups told Yahoo Sports. '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.'

Chris Paul took to Instagram to pay tribute to his fellow point guard, saying:

Welllll, let me start by saying that I usually don't get too emotional when it comes to former opponents or even teammates, but this one is a lil different! I was blessed and fortunate to be born with an amazing big brother who everyone knows already. But early in my career when I began to have what they call "NBA family", I was blessed with another big brother! In a league that's filled with fierce competition and unfortunately at times jealousy, a veteran guard took me under his wing and told me and showed me what it means to be a professional and to ALWAYS help the next guy coming up behind you. One of the highlights of my career was the night that I found out I would get to play along side of Chaunce! I could go on and on talkin about this guy but I'll end by saying THANK YOU BIG SHOT!!! And I would love to be there whenever the Hall of Fame Ceremony is! #MrBigShot #1 #ParkHill #Bbbbbbillups #MuchLove

Billups returned to the Pistons this past season. The veteran guard ended up appearing in just 19 games, however, due to a lingering knee injury. He had surgery in late February and, despite an initial timetable of two to three weeks, he wasn't able to return before season's end.

Even when he was on the court, the 37-year-old point guard played like a shell of his former self. He averaged less than four points while playing under 17 minutes per game, which were both career lows. He also shot just 30.4 percent from the field.

His lackluster play was a sign the end might be near for Billups. He confirmed as much in comments to David Mayo of MLive.com while also stating a lot would depend on the health of his knee:

"It all kind of depends how this feels and how things are with the knee. If the knee is fine, then sure, absolutely, I would like to come back. If it's not, I don't want to come back and do this. It's tough to do this, especially on a team when we're not a winning team at this stage."

Apparently the knee didn't make enough progress to consider trying to make it through the grind of another NBA season. Instead, he steps away from the NBA with a terrific resume and a bright future likely working elsewhere within the sport.

Aside from the Pistons, Billups also played with the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers in a career that spanned nearly two decades.

The point guard, who earned the moniker "Mr. Big Shot" for his play in clutch situations, was named to five straight All-Star teams starting in 2006. He finishes his career with averages of 15.2 points and 5.4 assists while having connected on 38.7 percent of his three-point attempts.

He also had some success representing the United States on the international level as a part of two teams to capture gold medals (FIBA Americas Championship in 2007 and FIBA World Championship in 2010).

Now the focus shifts to his future, which could very well continue to revolve around the NBA. Billups was a well-liked player with a high basketball IQ, a combination that bodes well for succeeding in a front office.

Terry Foster of The Detroit News believes the longtime guard would be a perfect fit to help the Pistons make the transition to a new era:

With a management team perceived to be a group of outsiders, hiring Billups makes sense—he can serve as a bridge between the past and future of the organization.

And Billups can continue to grow as a front office leader under the new president that may eventually land Billups the job.

Whether it's the Pistons or another organization, there should definitely be an immediate spot available for Billups somewhere around the league. That is, of course, if he decides to jump right into a new role and doesn't take some time off to recharge before considering that type of option.

Billups probably didn't get enough attention for his consistent success over the years. But his retirement announcement is a chance to recognize those accomplishments, highlighted by the aforementioned NBA title with the Pistons.

He was a special player and his future remains bright, even with his playing career in the books.

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