The Portland Trail Blazers named LA Clippers assistant coach and former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups as the franchise’s next head coach on Sunday night.
According to ESPN, Billups and the Blazers agreed to a five-year deal with a team option on the last season.
The hire comes after the Blazers were hit with more than a week’s worth of criticism for bringing in 44-year-old Billups who landed the job despite a 1997 sexual assault case.
The hire of Chauncey Billups as the next head coach for the Portland Trail Blazers seemed like a slam dunk. However, that was before the NBA Twitter community was reminded of Billups’s controversial past.
Pressure from superstar Damian Lillard and from NBA fans peaked in a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports who said the search process for the coach and public reaction is driving Lillard away from the franchise.
“Lillard has remained loyal to Portland in large part due to the tremendous fan base,” Haynes reported. “But over the last few days, he’s seen some of those same fans attacking him on social media for a pending coaching hire he played no part in consummating, sources said.”
The move leaves the Blazers at odds with their superstar and their fans.
The team is right to be in a hurry to make moves that make them better, but hiring Billups is turning out so far to be a move that could put their entire operation at risk.
What is Chauncey Billups accused of?
In 1997, a woman accused Billups, his former teammate Ron Mercer and another man of raping her.
Billups was a rookie for the Boston Celtics at the time and the alleged rape took place at Antoine Walker’s condominium.
[WARNING: The details in the police reports from Billups’s rape allegation are disturbing]
Billups settled the civil case against him, and criminal charges were never filed.
The dichotomy of hiring men and women in the NBA
Despite the allegation, Billups getting the Portland job isn’t the first of his high-profile stints since retiring from his playing career in the NBA.
There were no mainstream media reports detailing his past when he worked as an ESPN analyst, or when the Cleveland Cavaliers offered him a general manager position.
However, when pitted up against longtime Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, a conversation about gender dynamics in the NBA comes to fruition.
The Trail Blazers reportedly did their research on Billups’s past, yet still hired him over Hammon.
Billups, a man with a connection to an alleged violent sexual assault, and Hammon, a woman with no known abuse allegations, became finalists for the Trail Blazers job with the former winning out despite significantly less NBA coaching experience.
Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star, has been an assistant coach for the Spurs for the last seven seasons under Gregg Popovich — who is in the conversation for greatest NBA head coach of all time.
Billups, a five-time All-Star and 2004 NBA Finals MVP, had been an assistant coach for the LA Clippers for all of one season.
Jason Kidd, another former NBA star with a history of abuse, became the new head coach of the Dallas Mavericks shortly before Billups locked up the Blazers deal.
Authorities arrested Kidd in 2001 after he was accused of hitting his wife. He pled guilty to spousal abuse.
Kidd holds a 183-190 NBA win-loss record as a head coach.
“Who gives us the best chance to win?” is not an easy question to answer for the win-now franchise.
Hammon has more coaching experience, but players would more likely be familiar with Billups.
“Who gives us a better chance to keep our players and fans?” is the question one would think they focus on as those fans, reporters and the undefeated internet reign down judgment for messy hire they didn’t have to make.