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June 12, 2004

Chauncey Billups


Q. Larry talked about what respect you guys have for each other, how tough you are mentally, how has that helped you in the playoffs and the NBA Finals in particular?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: You talking about me personally, me and Larry?
Q. The whole team, how he's taught you to respect each other and get along, mental toughness.
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: I think we have a mutual respect for one another. You know, like I said, time and time again, we both work extremely hard to get to this point and know that, we both know that. I think without mental toughness, you don't get to this point. The road that we've traveled, I think that we've played three of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference to get here: The first round we get Milwaukee, and they really were the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference the entire season. One shot, the last play of the game, last game of the season, propelled them to sixth, so we get them and we get Jersey and we get Indiana. It was a tough road for us to get here and we know the Lakers had a tough road with Houston, who was a tough opponent for them in the regular season and you get San Antonio and Minnesota. So I think it is, it's a mutual respect for one another to know that mentally we stayed strong for the whole thing and now we are battling one another.
Q. There was a situation earlier in your rookie year in Boston, you guys were playing Miami, you go against Tim Hardaway and Rick Pitino yanked you out of the game. Might have been the first home game, took you out and put you back in the game and right after the game, Tim Hardaway came to the locker room and said, "don't worry about that. You're going to be a really good, player one day." Could you revisit that and have the words stuck with you, especially now you're in a situation and are playing so well in a championship series, you now are kind of reflecting back from then until this point?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: You know, that meant a lot to me. Man, I was a rookie. It was maybe 10th, 11th game of the season and I was playing and Coach Pitino had taken me out for I don't know what, and then put me back in the game. And afterwards, you know, I'm leaving the locker room and Tim Hardaway called me over and he sat me down and was just like, "man, listen, everybody don't coach like that. You know, you're the No. 3 pick for a reason. You're going to be a great player. Just be patient. Take your time and learn the NBA game. You've got a great body, you can score, you've got all the tools, you've got all the tools, just be patient with yourself. I love your game, I'm a big fan of your game. I know you can make it, so don't get down on yourself."
So for a guy like him, to meet me to tell me that, who I respect him so much and respect his game so much, it meant a lot to me. It gave me a lot of confidence in it. It had helped me to keep my head up through tough situations, you know what I mean.
So that was a huge point in my career for a guy like him to step up, and I'm playing against him, and to step up and say, you know what, keep your head up, kid.
Q. Larry has talked about how hard he is on his point guards, and was there a process of you getting used to him and him getting used to you? And are you a different player now than you were a year ago?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Larry is, he's tough. He's tough on me, and not just me, even our backup point guard. He's tough and it was a learning curve that we went through. It was some tough times where, you know -- like I said, I'm unlike a lot of the players that he's coached at my position. He's more of a -- when he won, he played a pure point guard/passing point guard and I'm a scoring point guard.
So, it presented a different challenge for him, too, than it was to coach Eric Snow or Mark Jackson he had in Indiana. It was a little different. But like I said, I think we both sacrificed a lot to get to that happy medium to make it a very healthy relationship, because we do, we have a great relationship now.
Q. Were there moments you wondered if it was going to work?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Not really if it would work, just, you know, at what point, how long will it take me to get comfortable with what he liked. I know that it would work, because, I mean, I've been in a lot of situations, as you all know, and a lot of them haven't worked out, a couple of them have. So, you know, I can deal with a lot of different situations, but it was a matter of how long would it take, how long will it take him to learn my game and learn what I like to do, and how long will it take me to figure out what he wants out of me, and what he wants me to do out there and when can I be an extension of him out there.
You know, it's still not finished. We're still not -- I'm still not a finished product. I'm still not an extension of him entirely out there, but the more we're together, we'll get there.
Q. How are his expectations for you different than the other coaches you've played for in this league?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Well, for one, you know, now, finally, I'm running my team. You know, this is my situation. A lot of the situations I've been in, I wasn't the guy. When I was in Minnesota, I kind of inherited the position because Terrell Brandon was hurt, so it really wasn't my ideal.
But now, you know, it's my team to run, pretty much, so that's a lot different than any other situation that I've been in. So, we kind of have no choice but to work with one another and make one another happy, because, you know, I don't think any one of us are going anywhere soon.
Q. At the end of last game, Kobe started picking you up 94 feet. It was almost like they were trying to build and get something going for the next game as a desperation act to get back in. You not only accepted that challenge, but I could have sworn I saw you kind of smile at one point, like, I want this, I'm enjoying this, or whatever; what was it that appealed to you about what they were doing?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Well, he was just -- I thought he was really frustrated, really with, how the game was going. We were up 17, 18 points and so I thought he just kind of tried to take it on his own and kind of get back in the game, or, you know, to get the intensity up. So he picked me up and I loved it man, I loved it. (Smiling) It's a great challenge for me, and also, I feel like, if he can start picking me up full court, I'm just going to be running off pick-and-rolls, I think we'll be able to wear him down on the offensive end, and it will make it a lot easier on Rip and Tayshaun and those guys. It was great, though. I did, I liked that.
Q. You talked about being an extension of Larry, and wanting to get there, have you always wanted that or is that something you've matured into where you can see yourself being an extension of your coach?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Well, I've always wanted that. I've always wanted that. So many times, I haven't really had that opportunity. I didn't play as many minutes to be that extension. I didn't spend enough time with the coach. I didn't spend enough time in a certain city or a certain situation, you know, to get that. I've played for eight or nine different coaches maybe, man, so I haven't had time. But I've always wanted to get there and just to be able to know everything about the game that I could possibly know, and I think the only way you can do that is to, you know, really study that coach and spend a little time with him and know what he thinks and when he's thinking it.
Q. How would you characterize the confidence of your team now through three games in this series?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: I think we're very confident. We're riding confidence right now that's as high as it's been all season. Coming into a series that we felt we had a good chance, you know, being competitive and having a chance to win a series, but nobody else felt that. We knew we were the only ones that believed in us and are coming in here really to have outplayed that team for three straight games, it's confidence. You know, that's a lot of confidence for us. Especially with the first two games being on the road, so, we're very confident bunch right now. But like I said yesterday, it's 2-1 right now, and this is -- this series is so far from over right now, it's unbelievable. I mean, 3-0 is a lot different from 2-1. 3-0 is out the window. It's 2-1. We've got a game tomorrow that is probably the most pivotal game of the series, and we understand that.
Like I said, we're confident, but we know that in all actuality, we haven't done that much yet. We are at home and great teams are supposed to win at home, so we haven't done anything.
Q. You guys know the trouble you've had having prosperity, do you need, as captain, to say anything at this point or do you think the guys have already learned the lesson from the other fall-back games?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: I think we learned a lesson. The reason why I really think that is because of the way we came out the other night after losing that tough one in L.A., you know, we didn't talk about it before the game. It was just like everybody was on the same page. We didn't talk about being -- being extra aggressive, just when we got in the huddle, everybody had their game face on. I think we learned some valuable lessons and I think that's one of them. Hopefully, you know, we can come out tomorrow and be just as aggressive at the start of the game tomorrow as we were the other day and continue that for 48 straight minutes.
Q. For those of us who watched you guys play in the previous two rounds, the concept and notion that you can be averaging 88 points a game against the Lakers is mind-boggling. What is it you are doing offensively that enables you to score that you could not do in the previous two?
CHAUNCEY BILLUPS: Not that much, man, not that much. I mean, I talk about it all the time. You're looking at the Indiana series, you're looking at two -- you're looking at the No. 1 defensive team in us and the No. 3 in Indiana. And, two teams that are really trying to play halfcourt basketball, and two teams that are running the same exact sets. How many points can you really score? It's like playing against a second unit in practice, you know what I mean, but really your second unit is equally as good as the first unit, you can't score that many points. It's tough.
The Lakers present a different challenge for us because they like to get out and run a little bit and they like to play the halfcourt triangle, but any opportunity they get out and run it, they get out and run it. I don't think they are as good of a defensive team that Indiana is, either. We are able to get into some sets and do some pick-and-rolls and down screens. Their team isn't as athletic as Indiana's team is either. They can't guard our pick-and-rolls as good, you know what I mean, as Indiana did, and down screens are tough for Shaq and Karl Malone to get out and chase Rip and give Ben and Rasheed rebound position. It's different, man.

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