Billups back where he always intended to stay

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The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (AP) — Chauncey Billups saw what happened to the Detroit Pistons and their fans when Ben Wallace left last summer for Chicago.

He wasn't going to put them through it again.

"This is the first city and the first organization to show me love," Billups said Monday. "They've helped me go from a pretty good player to an elite player, and I wasn't going to break their hearts."

Billups was speaking before teeing off in his annual charity golf tournament at a joint press conference with Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations. It was their first meeting with the media since Billups agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract earlier this month.

"You don't get many great players who are also great guys, and when you do, you don't let them go," Dumars said. "We had to go through the process, but we knew it was imperative that we keep him."

Billups was the third overall pick in 1997, but played for five teams in his first four seasons before coming to Detroit as a free agent in 2002.

He immediately took over the point guard job, led the team to an NBA title in his second season and had them in Game 7 of the finals in 2005.

Even after conference-final losses to Miami and Cleveland the last two years, he has become widely seen as one of the league's best point guards and clutch players.

"This is our captain, our point guard and our leader," Dumars said. "Making this happen was a no-brainer."

Billups had said all season that he hoped to stay in Detroit, and he acknowledged Monday that he might have hurt his own bargaining power in the process.