2004 Finals MVP Billups retires, NBA has never seen a big heart

2004FinalsMVPBillupsretires,NBAhasneverseenabigheart
OnWednesday,YahooSportsrevealedamessage:Billups,themostvaluableplayerinthe2004NBAFinals,decidedtoretireafter17seasonsintheNBA.Foraveteranwhoisabouttoturn38intwoweeks,thisisprobablythebestandmosthelplesschoice.  Thissummer,thePistonsrefusedtoimplementBillups’contractwiththeteamforthesecondandfinalyear—worth$2.5million—andBillupsbecameanunrestrictedfreeagent.Aftertraininginthesummeroffseason,thefive-timeAll-StarveteranintendstojointheCavaliersandfightalongsideJames.Hestatedthatifheiswillingtocontinue,hestillhasseveralopportunities.However,inthepastthreeseasons,Billupshasmissed185gamesduetoinjuries.Inanycase,anyonemustfinallyadmit:yearsdonotspareothers.Intheend,Billupschosetoretirebeforehis38thbirthday.  Justamatteroftime.Whenitcomes,Iwillknow.BillupstoldaYahooSportsreporterthatmywillanddesirearestillverystrong,butIcannotignorethefactthatIhavenotbeenhealthyforthreeyears.IcantryagainandscorewhereIthinkIcan.Butthiscannotlast.WhenIcannolongerplaylikeIusedto,Iknowthetimehascome.  Justamatteroftime.Iamveryhappyandalittleexcited.Billupsemphasizedtimeagain.Thisgamehasbeenveryverygoodtome.IfeelasifItreatthisgamewithrespectthewayIplayit.  AfterplayingintheNBAfor17seasons,BillupsimpressedthefansmostwhenheplayedforthePistonsinthe2002-08season.Akeygoalinthe2004NBAFinalsalsoearnedhimMr.NicknameforBigShot.Inthosedays,heandBenWallace,Hamilton,andRashidWallaceformedthepowerfulfourgiantsofthePistons.AndBillupshimselfalsosaidthathisbestmemoriesarealsointhePistons.  Beforethat,mycareerwasinsomedanger.ButIperseveredandworkedveryhardtofinallywinmychanceinDetroit.Hesaid,Iwillneverforgetthis.Aftersomuchexperience,itissohappytowinachampionshipinDetroit.  Duringhiscareer,Billupsaveraged15pointsand5.4assists,383-pointers7%,withatotalscoreof15802points,andwasselectedtotheNBAAll-NBAteamthreetimes.Hesincerelysaidthathegaveallhislifetobasketball,anditwasalsobecauseofbasketballthathewasabletogivehimtheopportunitytogotocollege.ButnowIdon’twanttoriskmyselfanymore.Heshookhisheadandsaidthatthecostofhealthistoogreat.  BillupsplanstoreturntoJiaxinginDenverafterretiringandlivewithhiswifeandthreedaughters.Asforwhathewoulddoafterretirement,hedidn’tthinkmuchaboutit.Iamstillquitecalmnow.Hesaid,IalwayssaidthatIhopetoworkinthemanagementofacertainteam,ordoTVcommentary,thesearethethingsIwanttodomost.Butnow,Iwillenjoytakingthetimetoseehowthingswilldevelop.(Unbounded)Once,hewasahigh-profilerookieshow,butearlyinhiscareerhespentinthetwistsandturnsofBoston,Toronto,Denver,andMinnesota;once,hewasjustanordinaryplayerwithamiddle-classcontract,butDuringthisperiod,hebecamethemostgrassrootsMVPinNBAhistory.  TheupsanddownsofBillups’careerarethecollectiveepitomeofthefivePistonsherepresents:theydon’thavethebestbasketballtalent,buttheyareallunique;theyhavebeenunderestimatedbytheworld,buttheyInthefinals,theyalmostswepttheLakersF4;theyhaveneverbeenatopstar,buttheirmeetinghasmadeagreathistorythatisdifficulttocopy.  Now,BillupsandtwoWallacehavechosentoretire,Hamiltonhasnoballtoplay,thentheonlyfivetigersintheMegaLeaguewerePrincestillholdingontotheGrizzlies.Whentimerushedby,thesteel-bondedtoughguyswerealreadywounded,andthebravewarriorswhoneverrefusedtolosehadtoacceptthefactthattheoldagewasdeclining.However,althoughtheerathatbelongedtothemhaslongpassed,thiseratheycreatedButeveryonewillremember.(Brownsugar)