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Richard Hamilton on his time with the Pistons: ‘We genuinely loved each other’

Recently retired NCAA and NBA champion Richard “Rip” Hamilton discussed how his career ends where it began, with a radio interview on the Jim Rome Show.

“This is crazy how everything goes full circle,” Hamilton told the show. “When I first came into the league, you were my first national interview, and now with me leaving the league, you’re my first exit interview.”

Rip formally announced his retirement from the NBA last week. Today, he acknowledged the itch to play remains, but that is coupled with a sense of relief.

“I had a lot of emotions,” said Hamilton. “Basketball’s been my life, I’ve been playing ever since a kid. To watch an NBA game and watch college games since I’ve been out, you always get that itch and you always get that excitement and that thrill about being on the floor…It’s tough, it’s hard, but I’m ready for a new chapter in my life and it’s kind of a sigh of relief when I made the [retirement] announcement.”

Hamilton believed he could have sustained his career in the NBA had it not been for a series of injuries and setbacks that ultimately led to his retirement.

“Mentally, I still thought I was the best two-guard in the NBA and most conditioned athlete and everything like that, but my body {would} respond in a different way…I kept getting knick-knack injuries that usually put me out…and it was like, ‘hey, you know what, maybe it’s my time to sit back and hang out with my family.”

Among his accomplishments, Hamilton won the 2004 NBA Championship with the Detroit Pistons. Rip discussed what made that team great and the bond shared by the players on that title team.

“Unbelievable,” Hamilton said when asked to describe his 2004 Detroit teammates. “The best, the type of bond that we had and what we have today – you really don’t see it in professional locker rooms from any sport. We were a group of guys that genuinely loved each other: we were like brothers on and off the court. We spend more time off the floor than we did on the floor.”

One of his Detroit teammates, Rasheed Wallace, remains a close friend and source of entertainment with fashion decisions that keep Hamilton laughing.

“I always said [Rasheed] had the worst fro in history. He’s the worst dressed person in NBA history. I mean, it was just his style – he thought it was cool…once he got it into his head that something was cool and believed it, he thought it was right regardless of what the media said, what his teammates said, what anybody ever said. The type of relationship that we all have, sometimes we got to give him a reality check like, “Bro, that right there is cute.”

Among the former teams he played on, Hamilton discussed his time with the Chicago Bulls and responded with absolutely no doubt when asked if those Bulls could have won a title if everyone had remained healthy.

“Yes. Yes, I think so because at the time Derrick was playing at an MVP level. You had a great group of guys that kind of surrounded him and made him better, and he made all of us better…I thought that we had a great chance to win one.”

Rip shared his reaction to Derrick Rose’s latest injury and the affection he has for his former teammate.”

“It took a lot out of me. I mean, it was one of those situations where you hear it, you say ‘no way, no way could this happen’ because Derrick is such a unique individual, and he’s not just a superstar, but he’s just so normal….Derrick as a person, they don’t make them. They don’t make him at all…So, when you see something like that happen and when he goes down injury-after-injury-after-injury you just say, man, why him?”

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