Mr. Big Shot is heading for the small screen.
SI.com has learned that Chauncey Billups has been hired by ESPN to work as a studio analyst for the upcoming NBA season. Billups will appear on NBA Tonight, SportsCenter, NBA Coast to Coast and ESPN Radio, among other ESPN properties.
“With my experience and passion for the game, I think I can spark interest with viewers,” Billups said in an interview with Sports Illustrated on Tuesday. “I think I have a unique perspective.”
Billups will start in the studio but said he has interest long-term in learning how to be an analyst on game broadcasts. He is based in Denver and will travel to Bristol throughout the season.
Dubbed “Mr. Big Shot” for his icy cool in late-game situations, Billups played last season for the Detroit Pistons, who declined to pick up the team option on his contract for 2014-15. He announced his retirement in September after 17 NBA seasons, citing his inability to stay healthy having played only 61 games over the past three seasons.
“I’m the kind of guy who has to be two feet in if I am going to give my best effort so broadcasting is something I looking at long-term,” said Billups, 37. “This is what I want to do and the avenue I want to take. At the moment, I’m not thinking about working in an NBA front office or coaching or anything else. I’m thinking about being the best I can be at ESPN in the studio.”
Billups said he’s been interested in broadcasting for a couple of years and made it a point to do guest interviews when he could as his career closed. Asked if he could be critical of players and coaches in the league, including many who are his friends, Billups said, “There is a good and a bad way to handle everything. The kind of leader and teammate that I was, at every stop I made I was always honest with guys and honest with myself. I think that was the reason I grew to have the reputation I had in the league. It won’t be any different to be honest about a guy’s performance. That’s not anything I’m worried about. It’s not going to be personal and I’m not going to bash their personal character. But I will talk about their game if they are not performing to a certain standard."
Billups was a five-time All-Star whose career apex came in 2004 when he won the NBA Finals MVP after leading the Pistons to an NBA title over the Lakers. He played 17 NBA seasons, including stops with Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers in addition to Detroit.
On the subject of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, Billups said it was not far-fetched to believe that the Cavs could win a title immediately.
“It’s possible,” Billups said. “You have to have talent, you have to have a leader that can command respect from everyone, and you have to have someone who has been there before and they have that. My concern would be the playoff inexperience of the other two studs in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Neither one of those guys have played a playoff game but they have played in big games. They have both played in World Championships. But one game in the World Championships is different than playing the same team for two weeks straight in a series. Big difference. But they have a chance. Chicago and them are the two favorites in the East and if D-Rose (Derrick Rose) is not 100 percent and can’t be the D-Rose we all fell in love with, Cleveland wins the East. And if you get to the finals, you have a chance."