Chauncey Billups won a Finals MVP that many would have never expected a player of his caliber to win when the Detroit Pistons beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. The 5-game series was a brutal loss for the Lakers, that would end up trading Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat and parting ways with coach Phil Jackson after that season.
Billups was recently on the All The Smoke podcast hosted by Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes where he revealed that he was always confident in the Pistons' ability to beat the Lakers. Even though the Pistons couldn't stop the individual brilliance of Shaq and Kobe Bryant, they knew the Lakers couldn't stop picking rolls and pin-downs with Chauncey.
"But we thought they [Los Angeles Lakers] didn't have a shot. Like, for real, though. That's not even cocky, though. We felt like the way that they played and the way that we played was different," Billups said.
"We can't stop Kobe. We can't stop Shaq. They the best two players in the whole series. But our game plan was gonna be thorough, and we knew that they couldn't stop picking rolls with me, and they couldn't stop ripping pin-downs... I told my wife that, before the series, we'd win. She laughed at me."
The 2004 Pistons Championship Was Special
The 2004 Pistons win is a story of how substance can always win out over style. They are arguably one of the greatest defensive teams of all time, anchored by 4-time DPOY Ben Wallace. Billups ran the team as their point guard and had specialist wings like Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace around him.
The Lakers had burnt out from their reign of success in the Shaq and Kobe era by 2004. They fell short of the NBA Finals in 2003 and couldn't be successful when they did make it back in 2004.
The Lakers ended up blowing up their entire squad and had to deal with patiently rebuilding the team over the next 4 years to eventually get back to the Finals in 2008 and then win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.