The Portland Trail Blazers refused a reporter’s question about a decades-old sexual assault allegation made against recently named head coach Chauncey Billups.
In his opening remarks during the introductory news conference, the 44-year-old Billups said the alleged incident from 1997 “shaped my life in so many different ways.”
But when asked by The Athletic’s Jason Quick to elaborate on that part of his statement, Billups remained silent while a member of the Blazers’ public relations department interjected.
“Jason we appreciate your question,” a Portland staffer said. “We’ve addressed this. It’s been asked and answered, so happy to move onto the next question here.”
Blazers GM Neil Olshey remained silent throughout the commentary, taking a sip of water.
Fans of the Blazers have slammed the organization for hiring Billups, who most recently served as an assistant coach for the Clippers and was an NBA analyst for ESPN.
In 1997, Billups, then a member of the Boston Celtics, and teammate Ron Mercer were accused by a woman of sexual misconduct at the home of former Boston forward Antoine Walker.
No criminal charges were filed, and Mercer and Billups settled a civil lawsuit with the accuser for an undisclosed sum three years later. Walker also settled a lawsuit with the accuser, who said Walker failed to prevent the alleged rape.
While addressing the 1997 rape allegation, Billups said the incident has had significant impact on his life decisions.
“Every decision has consequences, and that’s led to some really, really healthy but tough conversations I’ve had to have with my wife — who was my girlfriend at the time in 1997 — and my daughters about what actually happened, and about what they may have to read about me in the news and in the media,” Billups said during the press conference.
“But this experience has shaped my life in so many different ways, my decision-making obviously, who I allow to be in my life, the friendships and relationships that I have and how I go about them. It’s impacted every decision that I make, it really has, and it’s shaped me in some unbelievable ways.”
Billups finalized a five-year deal with the Blazers on Sunday, according to ESPN, which also reported the team investigated the 1997 rape allegation before offering him the head coaching job on Friday.
Billups was reportedly on board with the investigation and sources told the website his answers in a number of conversations with the organization coincided with findings from its independent investigation.
The controversy surrounding the hire could push star guard Damian Lillard “out the door,” Yahoo Sports previously reported. Lillard reportedly did not suggest Billups to Blazers brass after previously stating his preference for Jason Kidd — who ended up becoming the Mavericks’ head coach.
Lillard responded to Twitter backlash by stating he was not aware of the allegations against Billups.
The Knicks are monitoring Lillard’s situation, The Post’s Marc Berman reported.