Chauncey Billups Blazers head coach hiring draws backlash due to 1997 rape allegation

Former NBA star Billups was never charged in the 1997 case. He settled it civilly with a woman known in filings only as Jane Doe.

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Former NBA player Chauncey Billups, the new head coach of the Portland Trailblazers, dodged questions about 1997 sexual assault allegations against him during a news conference where his hiring was announced on Tuesday. 

A public relations professional interrupted before Billups could answer a question in which he was asked about the incident, which he has previously said “shaped his life in unbelievable ways.” 

The PR rep said, “We’ve addressed this. It’s been asked and answered.”

Neil Olshey, the Trailblazers’ president of basketball operations, did not elaborate on the results of an independent investigation into the incident that the team had commissioned. 

This Feb. 2011 photos shows then-new player for the New York Knicks, Chauncey Billups, being introduced to the media at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

“The findings of that incident corroborated Chauncey’s recollection of the events that nothing non-consensual happened,” he said. “We stand by Chauncey. Everyone in the organization.”

Olshey said the team considered the case, as well as the input of other stakeholders and players, including team star Damian Lillard, who supported the candidacy of Billups and another player-turned-coach, Jason Kidd. The latter — hired Monday as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks — has a history of domestic abuse.

“But at the end of the day,” Olshey said, “this is an organizational decision, and the organization believes that Chauncey is the best person to be our head coach.”

Sports Illustrated detailed the allegations this week, which culminated in Billups never being charged in the case and settling a civil case with a woman known in filings only as Jane Doe. 

Olshey told NBA reporter Sean Highkin the Blazers’ report was proprietary. “So you’re just going to have to take our word,” he said, “that we hired an experienced firm that ran an investigation that gave us the results we’ve already discussed.”

Despite the allegations early in his career, Billups had a long life in the NBA. He played 17 seasons in the league, including time with the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. He won two championships with the Detroit Pistons, where he earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot.”

“I learned at a very young age as a player, and not only a player, but a young man, a young adult that every decision has consequences,” Billups said on Tuesday, in addressing the ’97 accusation, “and that’s led to some really, really healthy but tough conversations that I’ve had to have with my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time in 1997, and my daughters about what actually happened and about what they may have to read about me in the news.”

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