Chauncey Ray Billups was born on September 25, 1976.
He was drafted in 1997 by the Boston Celtics but was traded midway through his first season to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors traded him to the Nuggets, for whom he played as a backup point guard until 2000, when he was traded to the Orlando Magic. Billups never played a game for Orlando due to injury, and he was traded in the offseason to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In Minnesota, Billups initially played backup behind more experienced point guard Terrell Brandon, but quickly grew to be a spark plug off the bench for the team, having a breakout 2001-2002 season.
During the 2002 offseason, Billups signed with the Detroit Pistons as a free agent, taking over their starting point guard role. It was during his tenure with the Pistons for which he has gained fame, leading a ragtag group of players who had been unceremoniously dumped or traded by numerous teams all the way to the championship in 2004. In the Finals, the Pistons upset the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers, which featured a roster that included future Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton, in what many sportswriters have dubbed "a 5 game sweep" due to the dominant defensive play by the Pistons throughout the series. Billups was awarded the Finals MVP for his efforts, in which he completely shut down Gary Payton and hit numerous big shots down the stretch.
In the 2005 season, Billups again led the ragtag Pistons to the NBA Finals, defeating the #1 seeded Miami Heat (which now featured the duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Dwayne Wade) in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the Finals, the Pistons were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs thanks to terrific clutch play by Spur Robert Horry in Game 5, which allowed the Spurs to bring a 3-2 advantage back to San Antonio, where they managed to defeat the Pistons in a tight seven game series.
For the next three seasons, the Pistons, despite major roster changes, remained highly competitive, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals all three seasons, for a total of six consecutive seasons, all with Billups as the starting point guard. After falling short once again in 2008, this time against the eventual champion Boston Celtics, Billups was traded to the Denver Nuggets in a major deal for former scoring champion Allen Iverson. This trade was hyped at the time but proved to be a mistake for the Pistons: whereas Detroit barely made the playoffs in 2009 and was swept in the first round, Billups, along with teammate Carmelo Anthony, brought the Nuggets back to the conference finals, where they lost a contested series with the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The 2009-2010 season was one of challenges for Billups and the Nuggets as their head coach, George Karl, was diagnosed with throat cancer. Chemistry problems and inconsistent team play, made worse by Karl's absence, led to a first-round exit for the Nuggets against the Utah Jazz, the first time in seven years Billups has not advanced at least to the conference finals. Billups will return to the Nugget's lineup for the 2010-2011 season.
In his 13 year career, Billups is best known as an excellent defender who is also a terrific clutch player, as evidenced by his nickname on the court, "Mr. Big Shot". He remains one of the most feared and respected clutch players in the league.