Five-time All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups, who became the 2004 NBA Finals MVP for the Pistons' title run, announced his retirement Tuesday night, telling Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, "it's just time."
Billups, who will turn 38 years old in two weeks, said he could try to get to a point where he feels he could be healthy again to play at an NBA level, but admitted that the concern is whether he could sustain that level for an entire NBA season. Billups has battled chronic knee issues throughout his career and said in the report on Wednesday that he knows it's time to hang it up because he can't play at that level anymore:
"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."
Billups was an unrestricted free agent this summer after the Pistons declined to renew the second and final year of his deal that would've paid him $2.5 million this season. He said earlier in the offseason that he had a few opportunities to play in the NBA next year but ultimately decided to call it a career after having missed 185 games the past three seasons.
Billups was selected third overall by the Celtics in the 1997 NBA Draft. The veteran guard jumped around for the early part of his career, playing in Boston, then for the Raptors, Nuggets and Timberwolves over the course of five years before landing with the Pistons. He then had a second stint with the Nuggets, then moved to the Knicks and Clippers before returning to the Pistons.
Looking back now that it's all come to a close, Billups said those years with the Pistons from 2002-08 were the best of his career:
"Before that, my career was in jeopardy in a few different stages. I persevered, sustained and continued to work hard, and finally got my opportunity in Detroit, and I never turned back from that point. That's what made it so sweet to me to win a championship after what I went through. I had to scrap and fight to get through it and to reach the pinnacle made it even sweeter. Winning the championship was the ultimate. I never set out to win the [Finals] MVP. Winning the championship was enough."