Portland Trail Blazers: An honest opinion on the Chauncey Billups hiring

Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

When news broke of the Portland Trail Blazers decision to name Chauncey Billups the next head coach, I struggled to find a way to express my thoughts on the matter. Many people are going to articulate the betrayal and utter disrespect that they received from the Blazers in a much better way than me—like in this piece by Blazers Edge that provided women with voices to share their own thoughts in their own words—but I felt uncomfortable with not revealing my disgust for this hiring.

Let me begin by explaining that FanSided is an amazing outlet that allows aspiring writers, like myself, and fans to dabble in the world of sports journalism. That being said, everything that I have written for The Smoking Cuban and Rip City Project has always been entirely my own opinion.

Tyler Watts, my editor for TSC and Stevie Cozens, my co-expert for the Project, have never told me to change anything aside from misrepresented facts, grammatical errors, or typos. Ultimately, every single word that’s been published under my name was my choice and my opinion alone. That fact is especially important for this piece.

In a civil settlement, the truth is buried

I also want to apologize for anyone out there who has experienced the brutality and evils of sexual assault. To see the public adoration and defense of an alleged assaulter is sure to recreate trauma that nobody should ever have to go through once, let alone over and over again in the 24-hour sports news cycle.

I fully understand that the world is not as black-and-white as many people make it out to be, but that just doesn’t always apply. I will spare the disturbing details of the allegations, but they are well detailed by SportsIllustrated’s Jack Winter.

Yes, Chauncey Billups was never charged with a crime, as he and his accuser settled the matter in a civil suit. That certainly doesn’t mean he’s innocent, but without a trail, it’s difficult to assure that he was guilty either.

In the United States, we are to believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But in a case that’s as difficult to prove as sexual assault and rape without witnesses, it comes down to whose side do you believe? It’s been medically proven that the accuser was in fact physically harmed in ways that suggest sexual assault, but Billups alleged that he did not participate in any non-consensual sexual activity with the woman.

In cases like this, I’m always inclined to believe the accuser. Sexual assault is a very real problem in our world that is much more common than many people believe. Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted according to RAINN.

The aftermath of an assault on a person is a horrifying truth that I luckily have not personally experienced, and I refuse to try to describe it in respects to those that have fallen victim to such a morbid reality. The trial process, especially with a celebrity athlete in the defense, is a grueling and cruel torture that few would choose to endure for any amount of money, regardless of what random idiots on the internet may suggest.

On the other hand, being accused of something you didn’t do, especially something as horrid as rape, is another unimaginable affliction that no person should have to endure. And while it’s rare, there has been instances in which innocent men, especially black men, have been falsely accused of rape. Who is anyone to tell Emmett Till, Pervis Payne, or Brian Banks that we should always believe the woman?

Unfortunately, while there are plenty of details about Billup’s alleged assault and there was a settlement, no one besides the involved parties will know for sure what happened that night.

Even in a gray world, the Chauncey Billups hire is wrong

Maybe Chauncey Billups is a changed man who made a horrendous, egregious, vile decision in his 20s that he regrets and has to live with every single day for the rest of his life. Maybe his version of the story is actually true and his only crime is by association.

Regardless of what the truth is, the Blazers decision to hire Billups is completely backwards and a loss for all of humanity.

In a world where women everywhere are yet to receive the respect and the decency that they deserve, to just be on equal footing as men, and to feel as safe as men do, there’s no reason why the Blazers should have hired Billups when there were more qualified candidates with clean records looking to land a chance to be an NBA head coach—especially when so many of the great candidates are women.

Take for example Becky Hammon, who was reportedly the Blazers owner Jody Allen’s top choice for the vacancy. Short of one championship, Hammon’s resume on the court is just as loaded as Billups.

Off the court, Hammon has been an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs for seven years compared to Billup’s one. She’s learned under the legendary tutelage of Gregg Popovich, while Billups has served under Ty Lue—a good, but still relatively unproven head coach. She’s even taken the directive of head coach sans Popovich.

Outside of basketball, all evidence points to Hammon being an amazing woman, mother, humanitarian, and person.

No matter how you feel about Billups’s history with sexual abuse, there’s no way to paint this decision by the Blazers and Neil Olshey as anything other than disrespectful. Best case scenario, Portland hired an under-qualified, accused sexual assaulter over more proven candidates, many of them female. Worst case scenario, the Blazers used a deserving head coaching candidate in Becky Hammon as a public relations stunt, but instead hired a rapist.

This was a knife in the back to women and people who support women everywhere. The message that Neil Olshey and the Blazers sent with this hiring is that they don’t care what women think of the team or its image or its morals. For a league and a team that prides themselves on their progressivism, this was as backwards and heartbreaking as a decision can be.

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