The Portland Trail Blazers are avoiding sexual assault questions related to new head coach Chauncey Billups like they’re post-season wins. Upon being introduced as head coach, Billups was asked about sexual assault allegations made against him in 1997. Blazers PR prevented the new coach from responding:
Here is Trail Blazers PR shutting down a valid question from @jwquick about Billups and the 1997 sexual assault allegations.
— Dylan Mickanen (@DylanMickanen) June 29, 2021
An off-camera staffer wasted no time deflecting the question, saying: “We’ve addressed this. It’s been asked and answered. So (we’re) happy to move onto the next question here.” For his part, Billups appeared to be ready and willing to answer the reporter’s question before being shut down.
The question, asked by Jason Quick of The Athletic, was valid and did not appear to be a way to bait Billups into an uncomfortable response: “You said that the 1997 incident shaped you in unbelievable ways. Can you maybe elaborate on that and how it helped shape you?”
The question asked makes the decision by the Blazers’ PR look even worse. Billups had a chance to express remorse or even talk about positive steps he’s made since the incident. Instead, Portland PR made a mess of Billups’ introductory press conference.
Maybe the Trail Blazers organization is under the impression that Google hasn’t yet made its way to the Pacific Northwest, preventing fans from finding any dirt on their new head coach. Or maybe they thought that the predominately progressive city of Portland would simply look the other way when it came to sexual assault allegations from their rookie coach’s past.
Between the rumors surrounding superstar point guard Damian Lillard, his waning desire to stay in Portland, and the Billups snafu, the Blazers are making plenty of noise this offseason. Just not on the court.