PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — During his introduction to Portland as the Trail Blazers’ new head coach, Chauncey Billups spoke about the 1997 rape allegations against him amid a backlash from fans as the team’s general manager announced an internal investigation into the events.
On Tuesday afternoon, Billups said he reflects on “how every decision we make has a profound impact on someone’s life.”
“Every decision has consequences, and that has led to some really, really healthy but tough conversations” with his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time, and daughters, he added.
“We stand by Chauncey,” Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said at the start of the press conference.
The Blazers were also interested in Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, as well as San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon.
Word that the Blazers had settled on Billups was first reported on Friday. The decision was met with backlash in Portland because of allegations that he was involved in a sexual assault in 1997. No criminal charges were ever filed.
Billups is now the franchise’s 15th head coach. The head coaching position is Billups’ first. A five-time NBA All-Star, he comes to Portland after being a Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach for the past season.
Sexual assault advocates not pleased
Advocates who spoke with KOIN 6 News said they’re not happy Billups was chosen as head coach. Alexxis Robinson-Woods and Brenda Tracy said his hiring sends a message that sexual violence isn’t that big of a deal, especially in the world of professional sports.
“I don’t know if there is anything that can make it better, other than they could’ve done it differently,” said Robinson-Woods, the executive director for Call to Safety (formerly Portland Women’s Crisis Line.) “Now they’re going to have to deal with the consequences of what that looks like, and once again nullifying what happens to women on a regular basis that enough money will make it go away.”
Tracy, a rape survivor and activist, said the Blazers press conference should have been an opportunity for the public to gain insight into what happened from Billups himself. But there were no additional details provided.
“Lack of transparency is always a red flag. It’s one of the biggest red flags of issues of you know sexual violence, violence against women, domestic violence,” Tracy said. “Lack of transparency is a huge problem and it should always be a deal breaker.”
Others under consideration
Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd withdrew his name from consideration after it was reported that Blazers guard Damian Lillard had endorsed him for the job.
Over the course of his career, Billups played for Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, New York and the Clippers. Known as Mr. Big Shot, he was voted the 2004 NBA Finals MVP while with the championship-winning Pistons.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue named Billups to his staff last November.
The Blazers fired Terry Stotts shortly after the team was eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the opening round of the playoffs.
Stotts coached the Blazers for nine seasons, taking them to the playoffs in the last eight. But Portland failed to advance past the first round in four of the last five years.
The 63-year-old Stotts was the NBA’s fourth-longest tenured coach this past season, behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle. He went 402-318 in his nine regular seasons in Portland and led the Blazers to the Western Conference finals in 2019, where they were swept by Golden State.
Full press conference:
Anne M. Peterson of the Associated Press contributed to this report