Richard “Rip” Hamilton will have his jersey number 32 retired on February 26 at the Palace of Auburn Hills when the Pistons face the Boston Celtics.
Rip will become the third player from the Going to Work crew from 2001-08 to have his jersey retired, following Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace. The squad won the 2004 NBA Championship and made six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
Hamilton joined the Pistons just before the start of the 2002 season in a trade with the Washington Wizards for Jerry Stackhouse. Bobby Simmons and Hubert Davis also came to Detroit while the Pistons sent out Brian Cardinal and Ratko Varda.
He had already established himself as a reliable scoring threat in Washington, hitting the 20 points per game mark by his third season alongside the newly un-retired Michael Jordan. That was the role he filled with the Pistons as well, immediately stepping in as the team’s leading scorer. Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring for his first eight seasons with the team, even for a couple of seasons after the dismantling of the Going to Work members.
Rip Hamilton’s non-stop energy away from the ball, knocking down the mid-range jumper off a Chauncey Billups pass to the breadbasket became a staple of the Pistons offense. It was as iconic to the team’s era as his trademark mask, the result of a multiple broken noses during the 2003-04 season. But those mid-range jumpers, he could get one off in an instant - as the Boston Celtics found out here.
His movement off the ball even gained him the attention of Runner’s World.
Hamilton averaged 18.5 points per game during his time with the Pistons, shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from three, and 85.4 percent from the free throw line. He also averaged 3.7 assists. He earned three straight All Star appearances from 2005 to 2008, including the 2006 All Star game that featured four of the five Pistons starters.
He parted with the Pistons as a free agent in 2011, playing a couple of seasons with the Bulls before heading off into retirement.
Perhaps my personal favorite Rip Hamilton memory was his performance against the Lakers in helping the Pistons win the 2004 Championship. After a lackluster game one, he averaged 23.8 points per game, 3.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds to help bring home the title.
What’s your favorite Rip memory?