Detroit Pistons 2004 Finals MVP: Chauncey Billups ascent to the top

Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) /

Revisiting the point guard’s legendary performance and the Detroit Pistons journey to get there.

On June 15th, 2004 the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 in 5 games to win the franchise’s third NBA Championship. Chauncey Billups was named Finals MVP, capping off a dominating performance against the Lakers Hall of Fame backcourt.

It was their third championship in franchise history, and arguably their most memorable.

Going into the series as huge underdogs Detroit won Game 1 87-75 in Los Angeles and showed the rest of the world that this complete Pistons team was a bad matchup for the Hall of Fame Lakers.

Also. Five transactions that explain the Detroit Pistons today. light

Chauncey helped set the tone in the series opener. He finished with 22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, on 8-14 shooting from the field, and 4-4 from the line.

The basketball world was on notice and Game 2 was the closest matchup of the series. The Lakers won Game 2 in overtime 99-91, but had to rely on Kobe Bryant pulling off magic tricks to do so.

Chauncey had 27 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists in 47 minutes.

The series moved to The Palace for Game 3 and saw the Pistons bully the Lakers for a 88-68 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Suffocating defense from the Pistons held Shaquille O’Neal to 14 points and Kobe Bryant to 11.

Billups played efficiently finishing with 19 points and 3 assists.

The all important Game 4 saw the continued trend of the Pistons controlling every aspect of the game. Shaq went off for 36 points and 20 rebounds, but Kobe Bryant struggled from the field scoring 20 points while needing 25 shots to do so. The Pistons won 88-80.

Chauncey had an impressive 23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals stat line.

The potential closeout Game 5 was the final one at The Palace. Since Games 6 and 7 would switch back to Los Angeles many pundits felt the Pistons needed to win Game 5 at home and finish off the series.

Related Story. Chauncey Billups wins all-time fan favorite vote. light

Although fans were confident in the Pistons ability to win in Los Angeles they still wanted to keep the celebration in Detroit.

There was never a question. As soon as the ball was tipped Detroit’s fate was sealed and they rolled to a 100-87 victory. They destroyed the Lakers and ended their dynasty run in dramatic fashion.

Billups had 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists while capturing Finals MVP. His 5 game masterpiece was impressive.

More from PistonPowered

Chauncey averaged 21 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.2 steals. His shooting numbers were astronomical with splits of 50 percent from the field, 47 percent from three, and 93 percent from the line. He also played stifling defense.

The Pistons completed a “5 game sweep,” after controlling the play and setting the tone in each game. Billups had reached the top of the mountain after years of trying to find a home.

It was a long journey.

He was drafted 3rd overall in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. That same season he was traded to the Toronto Raptors. Many NBA circles didn’t know if Billups was a shooting guard or point guard and the teams that followed had the same question.

In his 2nd season the Raptors traded him to his hometown Denver Nuggets. Halfway through that season the Nuggets dealt him to the Orlando Magic. He never played a game for the Magic as his season ended due to injury.

Chauncey was beginning to get labeled as a bust.

The Minnesota Timberwolves signed Chauncey as a free agent to backup Terrell Brandon. Brandon went down with an injury in Billups’ second season with the Timberwolves.

Chauncey stepped in and was finally able to show his ability to be a starting point guard in the league.

Detroit saw enough from his stint in Minnesota to sign Billups to a 5 year $35 million deal to be the team’s starting point guard. It was his 6th team in 6 years. The rest is Detroit history.

Billups became an All Star in Detroit, a champion, and Finals MVP. He’s respected throughout the league and by many players who speak about his mentorship.

He is now one of the top candidates for the Pistons vacant GM position. But 16 years after his historic Finals MVP performance it is hard not to think about the magical run he led the Pistons on in June 2004.

dark. Next. Troy Weaver emerges as top candidate for vacant GM position