Even Chauncey Billups had to admit that he has “accomplished every single thing” that any NBA player would want during a 15-year career.
And yet Billups still pushed himself through the pain of 10 months of rehabilitation on his torn left Achilles’ tendon so he could play basketball again.
And when he returned to play Wednesday night for the Clippers for the first time since he was injured on Feb. 6 at Orlando, Billups said it was worth it all.
“To be honest, this is what I do,” Billups said after practice Friday. “I know that there is still a lot more left in me and I know that I can contribute and help the team win, not just mentally but physically as well. If either one of those was gone, then I’m out.”
Billups won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, and he was the Finals’ MVP. He also has been a five-time All-Star, including selection on the All-NBA team and All-NBA defensive team, and he’s won a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA world championships in 2007.
“I’ve accomplished every single thing that I wanted to accomplish as a basketball player,” Billups said. “Every goal, personal accolades, I got it. But I feel like I’m not done. I still have a burning desire to win and I feel like what I do, I can still do.
“I love it here. I love it here with these guys. I think I can help further this team. I’m happy and I still love the game, man.”
The Clippers practiced Friday in preparation for Saturday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center, but Billups didn’t practice.
He said he was “sore” on their off-day Thursday and that his back was causing him some issues, but he’ll be ready to play Saturday.
“Conditioning-wise and timing-wise, I felt pretty good,” Billups said. “I’m not myself, I know that. But I felt pretty good, to be honest with you. I think the little issue that I had with my back is what has me sore now. My legs are tight from playing. It’s just a little issue I had with my back that I’m trying to shore up. That’s something that I’ve got to take my time with and be patient.”
For Chris Paul, having Billups back means more than just sharing the basketball in the backcourt.
Billups also provides a calming influence for his teammates.
“Having Chauncey in the huddles during the games, that way it’s not just my voice,” Paul said. “I think that part is going to help a lot too.”
Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Ronny Turiaf didn’t practice Friday because of ankle injury, but that the power forward is available to play.