Billups vows to be back once healed

CLEVELAND — The Los Angeles Clippers went through the

motions Wednesday morning, breaking a slight sweat while wearing sweatpants six

or so hours before tip-off of their game with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chauncey Billups watched from courtside, at times laid flat across the chairs

in Quicken Loans Arena’s first row. He wore a protective boot on his left foot

and needed help from crutches to eventually pull himself up, but the 35-year-old

Billups said the torn Achilles tendon he suffered Monday night in Orlando

“absolutely” won’t end his NBA career.

“I’m not going to crawl out of this league,” Billups said.

MRI results Tuesday confirmed that the injury will end Billups’ season. It comes

as a huge blow on and off the court to the peaking Clippers, who have won six

of seven and entered Wednesday night’s game vs. the Cavaliers at 15-7 and in

first place in the Pacific Division.

Both the Clippers and Billups have long roads ahead to fulfill promise — the

kind the re-made Clippers have shown in the first third of this season, and the

kind Billups is making as he prepares for a long road back. By the time the

Clippers tipped off their third game of a six-game road trip Wednesday night,

Billups was on his way back to Los Angeles.

Surgery awaits, but Billups insists he hasn’t played his last NBA game.

“My career is definitely not over,” he said. “I’m going to go

out on my own two feet and I will be back. And not just be back to prove that,

I’m going to be back and play at a high level. That’s my motivation right


A veteran of 15 seasons and 1,002 career games, Billups came to the Clippers at

the start of the season after being amnestied by the Knicks. He’d been starting

alongside Chris Paul in a double point-guard offense that resulted in plenty of

lobs for the freakish athletes in the Clippers’ frontcourt and a scoring

average of 99.4 points per game, fourth-best in the league.

Billups will now be relegated to a de facto coaching role for the remainder of

the ’11-12 season, and he said that’s a role he’ll embrace as he works toward a

16th NBA season.

He must like the Clippers. Billups threatened to walk away from the game when

the Knicks’ use of the amnesty clause left him on the waiver wire in December,

but he now insists he’ll be back to take care of what he called

“unfinished business” alongside Paul, Blake Griffin and Co.

“I’m a little deflated right now just knowing that my season is

over,” Billups said. “I just felt like this team was coming around.

They’ll still be fine without me, but I felt like with me we had something

special and it sucks to not be able to continue on and see what it could have


“I’m going to do my best to get back. As I told the guys, after the

surgery I will be around and whatever I see I will let guys know. Even if I’m

not around or with the guys on the road I’ll be watching the games and texting

them and coaching and helping them do what I think can be one special season.

“I think it can still happen.”

One thing that certainly won’t happen now is Billups being part of the USA

Olympic Team this summer.

“That’s one of my big, big disappointments as well,” he said. “I

should have been on the team that won (the gold medal) four years ago, but I

pulled out because of a family issue, my mother was sick. I never thought I

would have another chance to do it and was in a position to do it and now this,

so that’s disappointing as well.

“One thing you can’t control is fate and I’m just going to keep moving

right along. I’ll be back.”