- Ric Bucher, NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer
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Billups contacted Team USA director Jerry Colangelo on Tuesday and notified him of his decision.
"It's a matter of what you want to do and what you need to do," said Billups, who declined to be more specific about the family matter prompting his withdrawal from the team. "Winning a gold medal is the one thing that I haven't accomplished, and I was looking forward to standing up on that big stage. That's what I really wanted. But I was taught family comes first, above anything else."
Billups, along with Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd, was added to the team last summer and played a major role in revitalizing a national program marked by internal squabbling, selfish play and repeated upsets by less heralded squads from Greece and Italy. With Billups, Bryant and Kidd setting a more disciplined, team-oriented tone, Team USA went undefeated in an Olympic qualifying tournament last summer in Las Vegas.
Billups was concerned that his family issue might either distract him in Beijing or force him to return to the United States before or during competition. While the squad has not been officially announced, he was confident he would've been selected and, with competition to make the roster fierce, didn't want to take a spot if he couldn't be fully committed to the cause.
"They're in the right hands," he said of the team. "They'll be fine. And when they win the gold, I'll feel like I had a big hand in regaining our dominance because of what we did last summer."
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.