Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are up there in the discussion of the greatest ever to play. However, no matter how good these legends were, one player had their numbers and finished his career with a winning record against all three.
Chauncey Billups is one of the few players in NBA history fortunate enough to have faced Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. This reflects the work he put in and how he took care of his body.
In 17 seasons, Billups played for eight different teams, but he would be best remembered as part of the Detroit Pistons squad that defeated Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal in the 2004 NBA Finals.
Interestingly, he's also the only player in NBA history with a winning record over MJ, Kobe and LeBron in career head-to-head games.
Jordan enjoyed a 3-1 advantage head-to-head against Billups when he was still part of the Chicago Bulls in the 1997-98 season. As a Washington Wizard, Jordan’s record against Billups was 1-5, leading to a total of 6-4 in Chauncey’s favor.
Against Kobe, Billups holds a 24-21 record, including a 6-5 advantage in the playoffs. The sweetest victory would have to be the 2004 NBA Finals championship when the Pistons shredded the Lakers, 4-1.
Billups faced LeBron James while he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fans could argue that LeBron was still finding his footing in the league, meaning his losses against the veteran Billups were understandable. But a total of 39 games played and a 22-17 record is more than enough for Billups to say that he had LeBron’s number as well.
So, was Billups an excellent player or did he benefit from strong teammates? The answer could be both. Beating NBA legends on a regular basis shows consistency in performance. Basketball is a team sport, but point guards generally direct the teams on the floor. His leadership shined brighter on the biggest stage, and that’s why he earned the moniker "Mr. Big Shot." The fact that he wasn’t a flashy player always resulted in Billups being underappreciated and underrated by the general NBA public.
Now, as the new head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, he'll be tasked with leading Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Co. next season. Can Billups help his team put together a winning record of their own against NBA superstars such as James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic? It remains to be seen. But his playoff experience and composure in challenging moments should help him as he makes the transition to the sidelines, and the floor-general-turned-coach will work closely with Lillard.
Not many coaches can rattle off story after story about beating MJ, Kobe and LeBron, so that should instantly give Billups some credibility in the locker room.
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