The NBA is the most popular basketball league in the world. It has been around for decades, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. However, with the popularity of eSports on the rise, there are some who believe that professional sports will eventually be replaced by gaming.
The What the Hell You Looking at Young Fella? is a question that has been asked many times. Piper Billups was on the Denver Nuggets in 2009 when he said this phrase to Kendrick Perkins of the Boston Celtics.
Michael Jordan continues to loom big over the sports scene, despite the fact that he has been retired for a long period. His Airness is more than a professional player to basketball fans all around the globe; he’s a living icon who can steal the stage in any circumstance. Even other professionals may be taken aback when they meet MJ in person. Simply inquire of Chauncey Billups about the subject.
While the guard played in the NBA for 17 years before becoming a coach, there was a period when he was a relative newcomer. It was in this setting that he met Jordan for the first time.
Michael Jordan was at his peak when Chauncey Billups came on the scene.
Billups was a brilliant point guard capable of guiding a club to great heights, as Detroit Pistons fans will attest. With all due respect to the Colorado product, he couldn’t even come close to Jordan’s stardom.
Billups established himself as a genuine talent throughout his tenure with the Buffaloes. Despite the fact that Colorado isn’t exactly a basketball powerhouse, the guard guided his team to the 1997 NCAA Tournament, where they defeated the Indiana Hoosiers. Despite the fact that the point guard’s season ended in the Round of 32, he had demonstrated enough to attract NBA interest.
The Boston Celtics selected Billups with the third overall selection in the NBA draft in 1997. He won a spot on the roster and was pitted against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on opening night.
MJ had climbed to the peak of the basketball mountain at the moment. He’d already won four titles and, after a short detour into baseball, appeared capable of doing almost everything he set his mind to. Jordan had already established himself as a living legend and the face of basketball across the world.
Despite being Jordan’s peer, Billups was all too aware of the fact.
During his debut NBA game, Michael Jordan slammed the young guard.
During his debut NBA game, Chauncey Billups (L) ran towards Michael Jordan (R). | Christian Petersen/Getty Images and Jeff Haynes/AFP via Getty Images
Overall, it’s fair to say that no NBA player will forget his or her first professional game. But, due to His Airness, things were a little more memorable for Chauncey Billups.
“You have to consider, hey, I came from having Michael Jordan posters in my dorm room a few months earlier, and then my very first game is against Jordan and the Bulls,” the guard said in an interview with The Athletic. “I’m in Boston, and we’re facing the Bulls in front of our home crowd. I mean, I was astounded, just like everyone else. I was really awestruck as I watched him.”
Billups was set up outside the lane throughout the game as Dennis Rodman took free throws. The guard couldn’t help but glance over at MJ as he helped box out in case of a miss.
“It was like, Steve Kerr was on my right side, and it was me, and then MJ was about five, six feet away, and then on the other side of him was Ron Mercer, my other rookie buddy,” the guard said. “So, I’m sort of bending down, holding my shorts on my knees a little bit, and I just can’t take my eyes off this guy.” And I’m moving my gaze to the left, a little beyond him. Ron Mercer has his gaze turned to the right.”
Their staring was soon stopped, though. Jordan didn’t appear to like being looked at while attempting to work.
And then I hear this deep voice say, “What the heck you staring at young fella?” out of nowhere. And so, on cue, Ron and I both glanced away, as if we weren’t looking at him.
The Athletic’s Chauncey Billups
The Celtics eventually won the game, making the night even more memorable.
If Chauncey Billups was star-struck, he soon recovered and went on to have a successful career.
Despite admitting to being awestruck by witnessing Michael Jordan in person, Billups went on to say that after the game, he told Mercer, “you know MJ was talking to you.” While it’s unclear if it was a joke or a genuine belief, one thing is clear: Billups won’t be the star-struck new kid for long.
While the guard didn’t stay in Boston for long — he was moved as a rookie and was traded again during his second season — he still managed to carve himself an outstanding NBA career. He finally found a home with the Detroit Pistons, where he helped the team win the 2004 NBA title. His number one is still hung from the rafters in the Motor City today.
In his 17 seasons in the NBA, the Colorado alum averaged 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. He’s subsequently gone into coaching and will be the next head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2021-22 season. Billups will be working with youngsters who grew up watching him play, more than 20 years after he was starstruck by Jordan.
Basketball-Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Michael Jordan Slammed Players Who Wore His Shoes Against Him: ‘Don’t Embarrass My Shoes’