Chauncey Billups is back in Detroit, and he’s ready to do some winning.
At a news conference Tuesday, Billups, who just signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Pistons for $2.5 million a year, said he’s happy to be back in the Palace of Auburn Hills.
“I feel like I’ve still got some good years of basketball left,” said the five-time NBA All-Star, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve said it, time and time again, that I always wanted to be remembered as a Piston.”
The 36-year-old athlete stressed, however, that his move back to his old team isn’t merely sentimental.
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“I’m really not good with losing and mediocrity,” Billups said. “I come here, and I’m not just coming to mentor and coach. I’m coming to play, and I’m coming to try to win. I’m looking forward to it.”
Despite his optimism, Billups, who had been traded to the Denver Nuggets by the Pistons back in 2008, admitted that it hadn’t been the easiest decision to return to a team that had once left him in the dust.
“I think leadership is severely, severely undervalued, and I felt like that being undervalued led them to making the move they made and it cost them,” Billups told Detroit News of the 2008 trade. “I didn’t want to see it cost them like this as a lifetime Piston, but I do want people to know the impact I made on the franchise.”
Billups says he ultimately decided to move back to Detroit because he felt like he could add value to the team. It made “a lot of sense,” he said.
Many Pistons fans and analysts believe that the franchise went downhill after Billups’ departure. Some believe the veteran player’s return will breathe new life into the struggling team.
“The trade that looked savvy in November 2008 has looked foolish ever since,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg last week. “Leadership is impossible to quantify and hard to define, but it is crucial to success in the NBA… The Pistons have had some talented players in the last few years. They have not had much of a team. Billups returns to a franchise of punchlines and empty seats. They just filled the emptiest one.”