“We knew that we can’t stop Kobe. We can’t stop Shaq” – Former NBA champion unveils Pistons trusted their game plan for winning 2004 Finals, admits Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were top players in series


During Chauncey Billups’ 17-year NBA career, one of his crowning achievements was defeating the duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The former Detroit Pistons guard was once a fierce competitor. He reminisced about his time in the league with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the “All the Smoke” podcast.

Chauncey Billups is usually not the first player a person thinks of when they hear about the Pistons. Usually, players like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars or even Dennis Rodman are the ones fans remember the most. Billups’ stint with Detroit was also memorable for a few good reasons. The five-time All-Star was part of the roster that took over the team after Grant Hill‘s departure.

Unlike Hill’s stay with the Pistons, Billups and his squad were able to find significant success. For a team that didn’t have a legitimate All-Star, their team-centered style of play helped them beat the best teams in the NBA. A roster composed of hard-working, defensive-minded players allowed the Pistons to play a gritty style of basketball. Interestingly, this allowed them to be the top team in the Eastern Conference for quite a long time.

4x NBA All-Star, 4x Defensive Player of the Year. Ben Wallace attended school at Virginia Union and went on to win an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. https://t.co/KzddgwXnYT

The former NBA champ was able to share his championship journey when he appeared as a guest on Barnes and Jackson’s podcast.

“But we thought they [Los Angeles Lakers] didn’t have a shot. Like, for real, though. That’s not even cocky, though. We felt like the way that they played and the way that we played was different,” Billups said.

“We can’t stop Kobe. We can’t stop Shaq. They the best two players in the whole series. But our game plan was gonna be thorough, and we knew that they couldn’t stop picking rolls with me, and they couldn’t stop ripping pin downs.”


“I told my wife that, before the series, we’d win. She laughed at me.”

No other team in the NBA plays like the 2004 Detoit Pistons nowadays

Modern NBA teams have adapted to a fast-paced gameplan that relies heavily on three-pointers in the past five seasons. Due to the influence of Stephen Curry and other lethal three-point hitters, teams have strayed away from a slower type of system. Ever since the three-point revolution, teams have been heavily trying to build off the trend. However, not every team in the league has a Stephen Curry or a Damian Lillard.

Leaning toward a perimeter-focused system can elevate a team’s offense, but it also depends on the team’s personnel. For example, the Sacramento Kings. Their star point guard, De’Aaron Fox, is a poor shooter from the three-point area. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t make it rain from downtown like the other teams. The Kings won’t be able to keep up with the trend if they rely on Fox to make threes like Curry.

In an era of quick-hitting teams, not every team will find success in it. Maybe other teams that don’t have a generational shooter could adapt to the gritty, defensive gameplan that the Detroit Pistons had back in 2004.

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