Chauncey Billups talks BIG3 league’s players, future and potential


chauncey-billups-big3Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league has been a nostalgic kick for NBA fans seeing their favorite former players suiting up for some 3-on-3 basketball.

Among the stars to hoop in the BIG3’s inaugural season is Chauncey Billups, the 17-year NBA vet who earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” while leading the Detroit Pistons to six consecutive Eastern Conference finals appearances and an NBA title in 2004.

Billups, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, spoke on the phone with Dallas News’ SportsDay ahead of the BIG3’s stop in Dallas on Sunday.

On what initially drew him to the BIG3:

Billups: “Guys retire from the league, man, we retire for various reasons. Injuries, just got older, the league is young, it’s tough to keep up with these young boys. A lot of different things. But the one thing that’s always consistent is you always have that competitive fire to go out there and compete each day. Whether you can or not due to your body limitations, you’re gonna try to do it. I just thought it was a great opportunity to get guys together that are serious about the game still. I think another great thing is when you retire, the one thing that I always missed was just the camaraderie. Just being around guys, laughing, talking, joking in the locker room. It gives you that opportunity to have that again.”

What it’s been like suiting up next to the likes of Charles Oakley and Stephen Jackson on the Killer 3s:

Billups: “It’s been fun, man. All the guys on our team have been hand-picked and we like it that way. It’s been a lot of fun. Stephen Jackson is one of the most unstoppable players in the league. He’s really, really playing well. It’s been good being around Oak every week. Reggie Evans, who I played with with the Clippers has been an absolute monster in this league. It’s been a lot of fun.”

On the guys he sees in the BIG3 who have impressed him the most so far:

Billups: “There’s a couple guys in my opinion that I think could still be playing in the league. A guy like Al Harrington, he’s dominant. He’s kicking butt. Rashard Lewis, Stephen Jackson. Rashad McCants is really playing well. Andre Owens is a guard who’s playing really well. There’s just so many guys. You look at them like, these guys could still be getting some money. It’s been fun to see those guys too compete really hard.”

On the potential for the BIG3 and 3-on-3 basketball in the future:

Billups: “The potential’s huge. The fact of the matter is, this country, USA, we’re way behind because the rest of the world has always played 3-on-3. It’s an Olympic sport, we’ll catch up fast because we have the best players in the world here. It’s here to stay and it’s going to be sustainable, the BIG3 will. I think for us, talking about the BIG3, we will be considered pioneers in this because we’re really introducing 3-on-3 basketball to our country in the way of some players that people cheered for at one point.”

On the fan reaction to the BIG3 both at arenas and in day-to-day life:

Billups: “It’s been great, man. The arena, the fans love it. The games are pretty fast-paced. There’s a lot of excitement. They’ve really enjoyed the games. We’ve enjoyed bringing it to them. You’re at airports, you’re at barber shops, you’re all over the place and people are talking about the games. They watch them on Fox Sports 1. They’re like, ‘Man, who’re you playing this week?’ Or, ‘Man, did you see Ricky Davis go baseline and dunk?’ People really enjoy the BIG3. It couldn’t be at a better time. The season’s over. Football season hasn’t started. It could not be at a better time to watch some more basketball. To me it’s at a dead time in the summer. Baseball’s so long, so many games, there’s no competition for us here. I think it was a brilliant game plan by Ice Cube, Jeff (Kwatinetz, a co-founder) and Roger (Mason Jr., the league’s commissioner).”

If he wants to play in the BIG3 after this season:

Billups: “Well, as long as my body will allow me to and depending on what I’m doing for a living, if that allows me to, man oh man this has been so much fun to do. In fact, I’m out there telling all the guys that didn’t do, that passed on it, like, ‘Man, y’all missed out.’ So absolutely. I believe that it’s big-time and it’s a lot of fun, man.”

Billups was a 5-time NBA All-Star, and spent his NBA career playing for Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, LA Clippers, Toronto Raptors and NY Knicks.

Billups holds career averages of 15.2 ppg, 5.4 apg in 31.6 mpg. He made the All-NBA second team twice, the All-NBA third team once and the All-Defense team twice.

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