“It was, for one, validation for me because I kept making All-Star teams and making teams better,” said Billups, who was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2008 and then played for the Knicks and the Clippers.
“I didn’t want to see the Pistons suffer, but at the same time I wanted people to know why it was what it was.”
Billups spoke extensively, and bluntly, to Detroit media Tuesday, in his reintroduction to the Pistons on a two-year, $2.5 million deal.
Billups will wear his familiar No. 1 jersey, which Andre Drummond is giving up in deference to the 36-year-old veteran, who plans on leading the team back to success next season.
"I still feel like I have some good basketball left," he said. "I’ve always said I wanted to be remembered as a Piston."
Many in Detroit mark Billups's departure as the moment the team started to decline, and Billups has some ideas why.
“I think leadership is severely, severely undervalued, and I felt like that being undervalued led them to making the move they made and it cost them,” Billups said. “I didn’t want to see it cost them like this as a lifetime Piston, but I do want people to know the impact I made on the franchise.”
But after five years, Billups said he's buried the hatchet with team president Joe Dumars.
“I just needed to hear him apologize for how it went down, to kind of stand on it, and he did that,” Billups said. “As a man, I can’t do anything but respect that."