Baggage check

The Blazers have hired Chauncey Billups as their new head coach. A lot of people are asking why.

It isn't a hard question to answer. The Blazers chose Billups because that's whom their star player, Damian Lillard, said he wanted. And the Blazers want to keep Lillard here.

It's the pattern in the NBA these days, and Portland decided to get with the program. The superstar players name their coaches. Kawhi Leonard refused to play for the Spurs because he was tired of answering to the old-school coaching of Greg Popovich. Now Leonard is playing for the L.A. Clippers, coached (if you can call it that) by Tyronn Lue, whose current job is not to piss off Kawhi, and whose previous job was not to piss off Lebron James in Cleveland.

The new NBA coach's job is to not make waves and to let the ballers ball.

It is no coincidence that Billups, who apparently has only one year of coaching experience, is coming to Portland from an assistantship with the Clippers, where he watched Lue operate in the new reality.

Sadly, you can't Google for the Billups-to-the-Blazers story if you exclude the word "rape." Many folks are hearing for the first time now about a rape allegation against Billups and some other guys in 1997. The allegation was dropped as part of a cash settlement with the accuser. Billups was never charged with a crime. But the stigma remains. Some Blazer fans are angry that a person with that in his background would be brought to Portland as head coach. They're even calling out Lillard for his strong public endorsement of the idea.

The Blazer brass, especially the lackluster general manager, Neil Olshey, must be tearing their hair out. The whole idea of this move was to make Dame Dolla happy, and now instead he's catching flak for it.

I suspect this is nothing more than the start of a new cycle of futility for the Blazers. Olshey will ship out a bunch of the supporting cast, bring in some new journeymen who will be here for a year or two, and basically get the same results he gets most years. Lillard will see the start of the sunset of his career and think seriously about moving to L.A. or New York. If Billups gets some experienced assistants around him to show him what to do, he might be okay; if not, he'll be a disaster. 

And above all, Olshey will never admit to making a mistake.

As for the skeleton in Billups's closet, he couldn't pick a worse place than Portland to try to ignore it. He will spend a lot of time and energy dealing with something that he thought was dead and buried. I seem to remember a fellow by the name of Kobe Bryant finding himself in a highly similar situation 18 years ago. In fact, as I recall Kobe was arrested and charged with felony sexual assault at that point. Somehow he bought his way out from under that one and went on to sainthood. But that was Kobe Bryant, and that was 18 years ago. He was different, as was the era.

Anyway, good luck, Chauncey Billups. You are going to need it.


  1. So nice that everybody is now a legal expert, a sinless saint, and a basketball mastermind. Gee ain't social media great? We so damn smart and morally superior.


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