Chauncey Billups spoke to the Portland media Tuesday about a very sensitive issue -- and right there on a podium just a few feet from where his wife and three daughters sat at the team's practice facility in Tualatin.
It came across as heartfelt and genuine.
The news conference began with Neil Olshey and then Billups addressing a rape allegation made in 1997 that was met with a civil-court settlement.
“There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about how every decision that we make can have a profound impact on a person's life,” he said. “I learned at a very young age as a player and a young adult, that every decision has consequences.
“And that's led to some really, really helping with 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.”
Billups maintains that the sexual contact he had on that night with the woman was consensual. Olshey said the team’s investigation of the incident coincided with Billups’ version.
Billups dealt with the incident – even its aftermath. A later question invited him to speak about how it shaped his life and it was dismissed by the Trail Blazer moderator as “asked and answered” previously, which it had been:
“This experience has shaped my life in so many different ways,” Billups said. “My decision making, obviously -- who are allowed to be in my life, the friendships and the relationships that I have, and how I go about them.
“You know, it has impacted every decision that I make. It really has. And it's shaped me in some unbelievable ways.
“So, you know, I know how important it is to have the right support system around you, particularly during tough, difficult times. And it's something that I've tried to instill in all the players that I've played with over the course of my career, just sharing some of my experiences and things and maybe it will help them down the road at some point.
“I really look forward to providing insight, leadership, to our guys who are young and taking on a lot of responsibility, as I was at that time. But just being able to support them and walk them through situations is something that I'm going to take as a responsibility.”
When asked if he sees untapped potential with the current Portland roster, Billups said he does. And he thinks he can improve the team as it is constituted now.
“I believe we can,” he said. “Offensively, this team was unbelievable.
“I think we can even be better offensively with more ball movement, different schemes, different plays, executing a little bit better. Playing on both sides of the floor a little bit more, not having to like, you know have Dame and CJ bail you out with those shots that they can make all the time. Having some more continuity, not only ball movement, but player movement.
“Big Nurk, you know, is an asset. I think that he can score more than he has in the past. He's a really good facilitator, moving him around, putting the ball in his hands, moving Dame and CJ off the ball a little bit.
“We’ve got some versatile guys on our team.
“Everybody wants to win here and then defensively, you know, like I said, we can get a lot better with the guys that we currently have. So, I'm excited about where we are.”
The Blazers obviously hired a man with less coaching experience than most of the other candidates, but are betting on his future – his “high ceiling,” Olshey said -- particularly with the five-year contract he was given.