Although it had to happen, I was sad when the Pistons did the inevitable and waived Rip Hamilton earlier this week. Yes, I admit it; Rip was my favorite Piston during the recent glory days of this franchise. I don’t know if it was the Philadelphia bond we had in common, but we always seemed to get along and have good conversations.
Putting aside my bias, Joe Dumars had no choice but to waive him. It was obvious he did not want to be here and it would not have made sense to have him battle with a third straight coach. Rip never was the same player, both on and off the court after the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. He was lost without his backcourt mate, both on and off the floor and it showed both on and off the floor.
That being said, I am alarmed that there are so many people unwilling to give Hamilton his just due. In fact I can’t believe that having his jersey retired upon his retirement is even an issue. No, he is not a superstar, but if Vinnie Johnson’s number 15 is in the rafters so should number 32. Hamilton led the team in scoring eight of his nine years as a Piston and he was even better in the post season, averaging over 20 points a game in his 7 playoff seasons. He was clutch too, who can forget his winning basket in New Jersey to force a game 7 during the 2003-04 Eastern Conference semi-finals or the way he outplayed his hometown rival Kobe Bryant during the finals that same season. While the Bad Boys probably would not have had their success without the “Microwave”, there is no way the Pistons go to six straight Eastern Conference Finals without Hamilton.
Rip Hamilton will not and should not have a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but he should always have a spot in the hearts of Piston fans everywhere. YESSIR