By: Will Burchfield
Richard Hamilton enjoyed triumph after triumph with the Pistons, but one loss was so haunting he couldn’t speak about it for nearly 12 years.
He broke his silence on Friday, facing those demons from 2005 when the Pistons fell to the Spurs in the NBA Finals.
“And I’m going to tell you what’s crazy about it. It wasn’t the Game 7 that we lost in San Antonio, but Game 5 in Detroit,” Hamilton told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket.
“This is the first time I’ve ever even talked about it, to be 100 percent honest with you, because it was one of those situations where we knew we had ‘em. We just knew we had ‘em.”
Looking for their second consecutive championship, the Pistons were blown out in the first two games in San Antonio. They came home for three games at the Palace knowing they had to seize the opportunity.
“We’re thinking in the back of our heads, ‘Same thing as last year against the Lakers, we’ve gotta get these three games,'” Hamilton recalled.
The Pistons took care of business in the first two contests, throttling the Spurs in back to back games to knot the series at two.
“And then the third game,” Hamilton said, “Robert Horry hit that shot.”
That shot. It likely saved the Spurs’ lives. A former Spur told Hamilton so himself.
“Years later, I got a chance to play with Nazr Mohammed in Chicago,” Hamilton explained. “Nazr was on that (Spurs) team, and Naz was like, ‘Hey Rip, you don’t understand how mentally broken we were after you guys beat us the first two games in Detroit. We were lost. We thought the series was over.’”
Hamilton could hardly believe his ears.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Man, when you’re competing against Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and the crew that they had, it was like, alright, you beat ‘em two games, but these guys are going to come back and they’re going to come back harder.’ Not at one point did you think in the back of your mind that these guys were thinking they might lose this series,” Hamilton said.
But Mohammed laid it all out there. The Spurs – mentally, anyway – were finished. Horry’s shot and that Game 5 victory brought them back from the dead.
They would win the series on their home floor four days later.
“So, for me personally, I feel like we let one slip anyway,” Hamilton said. “But it is what it is, that’s the game of basketball for you.”