Terry Foster on Rip Hamilton's desire to retire a Piston:
Richard Hamilton uses stretch time before games to look around The Palace. That's when trainer Arnie Kander turns him into a human pretzel and Hamilton's eyes roam.
When he looks up, he sees championship banners from 1989 and 1990. He sees banners with the names of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer. His dream is to see a banner with his name up there.
"Man, I would look up there and say I got to get there," Hamilton said Monday. "And the only way to get up there is to win championships and win games. We won a championship. I did that. Now my job is to win another and be the best player I can be."
Hamilton wants to remain a Piston for life.
For whatever reason, guessing which of the current (or recent) Pistons will someday have their numbers retired has been a frequent obsession of mine.
I gave Rodney Stuckey mild grief over wearing No. 3 as a rookie, later prodding him about the decision and eventually asking Wallace last April if he still thought having his jersey raised at the Palace was still a possibility. And Iverson being given Chauncey's No. 1? Don't get me started.
But Hamilton? I don't know why, but I've never given the thought of retiring No. 32 much thought. Despite leading the team in scoring since the day he arrived, Hamilton has always seemed like a complimentary piece, not the all-important cog that Wallace and Billups were. And yet, after all these years, his name is everywhere in the team's record books.
Even last year, his first opportunity to shine, he was overshadowed by the drama surrounding the team, marginalized by his own coach in a last-ditch effort to appease a malcontent newcomer. His demotion to the bench was objectively unfair and yet was met with more annoyance than outrage among fans. And this year? Many of us are ready to ship him out the door now that we have the younger and cheaper Ben Gordon to plug into his starting spot.
Why has Hamilton been so under-appreciated his entire career? I'm still convinced that Wallace and Billups have done enough to have their jerseys retired, but does Hamilton need to win another title to secure his place in the rafters? If you're on the fence, what more does he need to do to convince you?