Former Detroit Pistons guard Richard “Rip” Hamilton was one of the most beloved sports figures in Motor City history for his integral role in the “Goin’ To Work” edition of the team that delivered the city’s third NBA title in 2003, and helped lead them to within a game of a repeat the next season.
Of course, the 2004 championship was one of the most stunning upsets in NBA Finals history, as the Pistons used their vaunted team defense and selfless style of play to upend the super-star led Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
For Hamilton, there was only one player he ever faced on the hardwood that made him nervous, and that was the late great Kobe Bryant.
“He’s probably the only guy that I competed against in my 14-year NBA career that when I would come into the game, I was low-key scared,” Hamilton said Wednesday. “I wasn’t scared of anybody. The reason why is, Kobe was the type of player that was gonna try to kill you when the first minute of play started until the final buzzer went off.”“You couldn’t let him get 10-12 points in the first quarter, because he was gonna try to give you 50,” he continued. “He scored 81 points in a game. Probably one of the most complete players that we have ever seen in our game of basketball.”
“Kobe Bryant is the closest guy to Michael Jordan that we have ever seen.”
Bryant left the game in 2016 after winning five championships, a league MVP award, being voted into 18 All-Star Games, and as an 11-time All NBA first-team member.
“When you look at his stats, you see, yes, he was an 18-time All-Star, he was a 15-time All-NBA player, tied with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,” Hamilton said. “But when Magic Johnson comes out and says Kobe Bryant is the best Laker of all time, that means better than him, and better than the guy Magic played with, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“You gotta understand, he’s still top-five all time in scoring, but he played with another great player in Shaquille O’Neal. If he didn’t play with Shaquille O’Neal, he probably would be No. 1 on the scoring list.”
We definitely miss seeing Rip’s buckets with Detroit, and of course we all miss the legendary Kobe Brant.
– – Quotes via Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket Link – –