Neil Olshey, Blazers 'stand by' Chauncey Billups in regards to sexual assault allegations

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday afternoon, the Trail Blazers hosted a press conference with president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and new head coach Chauncey Billups.

Billups and Olshey opened the press conference addressing concerns about the new Blazers head coach.

Billups was accused of sexually assaulting a woman along with teammate Ron Mercer at the home of Antoine Walker in 1997 before settling the lawsuit with the unidentified woman, paying her an undisclosed amount out of court.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

"I'd like to take an opportunity to address some of the feedback that we have received as a result of this announcement," said Olshey.

"With all sincerity, and you have my word along with everyone else in the organization, we are aware of and understand the concerns that have been expressed by some people in regards to some serious allegations Chauncey faced in 1997.

"We took the allegations very seriously and treated them with the gravity that they deserved. Even though other NBA organizations, business partners, television networks and regional networks have all enthusiastically, in the past and present, offered Chauncey high-profile positions within their organizations, we wanted to make sure we have our own thorough process because some things are just bigger than basketball.


"With Chauncey's support, his encouragement, we not only conducted our own traditional background check when offering him the position, we also commissioned an independent investigation into the incident in question in 1997. The findings of that [investigation] corroborated Chauncey's recollection of the events that nothing non-consensual happened.  

We stand by Chauncey.

Neil Olshey on the sexual assault allegations towards Chauncey Billups

Later in the press conference, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report asked for specifics about the investigation including who the team hired and who the investigation talked to. Olshey responded saying that's "proprietary" and that "you're just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that led us to the results we already discussed."

The Blazers president of basketball operations also cut off the Trail Blazers PR spokeswoman when answering this question, but another follow up about the 1997 allegations was shut down by the organization.

Jason Quick of The Athletic asked Billups to "elaborate" into how the 1997 allegations shaped him, which the head coach claimed they did during his opening statement.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about how every decision we make can have a profound impact on a person's life," said Billups. 

"I learned as a young player... young adult that every decision has consequences and that's led to some really healthy and tough conversations with my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time in 1997, and my daughters about what actually happened and about what they may need to read about me in the news, in the media.

"But this experience has shaped my life in so many different ways: my decision making, who I allow to be in my life, the friendships and the relationships that I have and how I go about them. It's impacted every decision that I make and it really has. It's shaped me in some unbelievable ways."

Rather than allowing Billups to respond to Quick's question, Trail Blazers PR shut the question down claiming "we have addressed this, it's been asked and answered" before being "happy to move on" to the next reporter.

As for if Olshey has regrets how the hiring was revealed, he claimed "We live in a world now where it wasn't really our announcement. Things get out before you want them to get out."

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Billups was the front runner looking to finalize a deal on Friday and that a deal had been agreed upon Sunday evening.

The backlash from hiring Billups was a reported reason that Damian Lillard may ask out of Portland, as reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports on Sunday. 

When asked about the report, Olshey responded "Dame and I talk all the time. Dame's happiness always revolves around winning. The ultimate responsibility behind that falls on me and my staff to put a team together.


"Every indication is that Dame doesn't want to leave Portland. He wants to retire a Trail Blazer. He's expressed that to the stakeholders."