October 27, 2014

DENVER (AP) These days, Mr. Big Shot has become Mr. Soccer Dad.

Retirement is definitely agreeing with Chauncey Billups.

Struggling to stay healthy after 17 NBA seasons, the 38-year-old Billups decided to step away from basketball this summer. Now he has more time for his family - he was a fixture at his oldest daughter's high school soccer games this fall - and more time to talk hoops, including his new job as an analyst for ESPN.

And more time to heal up. The player with the slick nickname - Mr. Big Shot - is actually feeling no pain in his knees, Achilles or anywhere else for the first time in a long while.

Even with the season starting this week, Billups insisted he doesn't miss hoops. Maybe come January, but not now.

No regrets, either. He was the 2004 NBA Finals MVP after helping Detroit win a championship. He scored 15,802 points and was a five-time All-Star.

''It's funny, when I made the decision to shut it down, a lot of people said to me, `It must've been the hardest thing in the world to retire,''' Billups said Monday. ''It wasn't the hardest thing in the world for me, because I did and accomplished every single thing I set out to accomplish and more.

''I've done more than I ever imagined in the sport. When it was time for me to hang it up, I felt at peace. I felt at ease.''

Now, it's on to his next endeavor, which still remains up in the air.

For now, he wants to hang out with his family. Down the road, he hopes to either become an entrepreneur or maybe work in an NBA front office.

There are a couple of prominent examples for Billups when it comes to making a successful transition from playing career to team executive in the Mile High City - John Elway with the Denver Broncos, and Joe Sakic with the Colorado Avalanche.

''I've always kind of said that was one of my desires, to maybe be in a position to run a franchise at some point,'' said Billups, who spent the afternoon reading to kids at a local school as part of an open enrollment event by MetLife to encourage dental health. ''We'll see if that happens one day.''

When Denver opens the season against Detroit on Wednesday night - two teams he spent a majority of his career with - he will definitely be in the crowd.

As for the Nuggets asking him to come on board, possibly as a team ambassador or some other role, Billups said he's talked to Nuggets President Josh Kroenke, but ''now really wasn't the time.''

No surprise, Billups is picking the Nuggets as the team to keep an eye on this season. He still likes San Antonio, Oklahoma City or another one of his former teams, the Los Angeles Clippers, to come out of the West. In the East, he's casting his vote not with LeBron James and Cleveland, but Derrick Rose and Chicago.

''Chicago's defense is better than anybody in the East,'' Billups said.

And he's always appreciated good defense. He has the aches and pains to show for it, too.

''My body was the key to letting me know, `OK, it's over,' because my mind is always willing,'' said Billups, the third pick in the 1997 draft by Boston after two standout seasons at the University of Colorado. ''I feel like I can always play at a high level. That's how I'm wired.

''However, getting out there is a different story. I probably could do a good job of playing right now. But I don't know if I could sustain that through the whole season. I haven't been able to in a few years. That's a good indication that maybe it's probably time.''

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