‘We knew we couldn’t stop Kobe. We can’t stop Shaq’- Former NBA champion reveals Pistons trusted their game plan to win 2004 Finals, admits Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were the best players in the series

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

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

Chauncey Billups isn’t usually 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 most remembered by fans. Billups’ time in Detroit was also memorable for several 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 time with the Pistons, Billups and his team were able to find significant success. For a team that didn’t have a legitimate All-Star, their team-centric style of play helped them beat the best teams in the NBA. A roster comprised of hardworking and defensive players allowed the Pistons to play a gritty style of basketball. Interestingly, this allowed them to be the best team in the Eastern Conference for quite a long time.

4x NBA All-Star, 4x Defensive Player of the Year. Ben Wallace attended Virginia Union school and won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

4x NBA All-Star, 4x Defensive Player of the Year. Ben Wallace attended Virginia Union school and won an NBA championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.

The former NBA champion 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] had no luck. Like, for real, though. It’s not even arrogant, though. We felt like the way they played and the way we played was different,” Billups said.

“We can’t stop Kobe. We can’t stop Shaq. They’re the two best players in the whole series. But our game plan was going to be thorough, and we knew they couldn’t stop picking rolls with me, and they couldn’t stop tearing the pins.”

“I told my wife before the show we would win. She laughed at me.”

No other NBA team plays like the 2004 Detoit Pistons these days

Modern NBA teams have adapted to a fast-paced game plan that relies heavily on three-pointers for the past five seasons. Due to the influence of Stephen Curry and other deadly three-point hitters, teams moved away from a slower type of system. Ever since the three-point revolution, teams have been striving to capitalize on the trend. However, not every team in the league has a Stephen Curry or a Damian Lillard.

Leaning towards 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 other teams. The Kings won’t be able to follow the trend if they rely on Fox to make lines like Curry.

In an age of fast teams, not all teams will find success there. Maybe other teams that don’t have a generational shooter could adapt to the serious, defensive game plan the Detroit Pistons had in 2004.

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Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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