Chauncey Billups learning how to be better coach through BWB Africa

Photo: NBA Africa

Chauncey Billups learning how to be better coach through BWB Africa

Boys Basketball

Chauncey Billups learning how to be better coach through BWB Africa


What is perhaps Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups’ greatest strength as a coach doubles as an area where he recognizes he could improve. It stems from his experience.

Billups has been there. He has been the highly sought-after draft prospect, á la Shaedon Sharpe. He has been the journeyman, one who was on four different teams from 1997-2000, not unlike Justise Winslow’s journey the last few years. He has been the star, surpassing what even Damian Lillard has accomplished in winning the 2004 Finals MVP.

“You gain more experience in every step, which enables you to speak to more things. I know for me as a coach now, with my best player in Dame or it could be our draft pick in Shaedon Sharpe, I’ve been through every thing that these guys have been through and I’ve been through a lot more that they have yet to see,” Billups said. “It allows me to really connect and relate to every step of their process.”

But, like many athletes who ascend to stardom, a learning curve exists with the transition to coaching: remembering that the areas that became instinctual to him are not instincts in many of these young athletes.

He noticed this last year, his first with the Blazers, and said it was amplified as he coached the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp this week.

“You just can’t think that they know it. You gotta slow it down and you have to explain it, and you have to demonstrate,” Billups said. “You can’t just think that they understand what even simple things are.”

Sixty boy and girl basketball players from around Africa joined the BWB camp in Cairo, Egypt, from Sunday through Wednesday to learn from people in and around the NBA, including Billups, Steve Kerr, Willie Green, Udoka Azubuike, Mo Bamba, Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams and Dikembe Mutombo.

(Photo: NBA Africa)

The players, ages 18 and under, went through on-court drills, measurements, and life and leadership development. The NBA coaches and players also participated in a clinic with 100 Jr. NBA members in collaboration with Special Olympics.

Billups said he saw potential and excitement in the athletes, which is reflective of the NBA growing internationally. Greater access to resources and training has broadened the pipeline not just in Africa but around the world. There have been BWB camps in 30 countries since its launch in 2001, and there were 41 former BWB campers and 121 international players on the opening-night rosters of the 2021-22 NBA season.

“The athleticism, the skill with some of these kids that I’m looking at right now, all I can do is think about, ‘Man, what is this kid going to look like in four or five years, this kid is going to be incredible,'” Billups said.

While the athletes are learning from Billups, the NBA coach is also learning from his experience there. It’s a lesson he can take back as he enters his second season at the helm in Portland.

“You forget the small things at times because you don’t worry about it no more. It just comes so instinctually,” Billups said. “It is difficult, but it’s like one of those things like riding a bike. Even if you get on there and your first couple peddles, you’re like, ‘Man what’s going on,’ then, like, boom, all of a sudden you’re cruising.”

Read more about Billups at the Basketball Without Borders Africa camp


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