Report: Pistons to Retire Rip Hamilton’s Jersey

They say the mid-range jump shot is a lost art. Well, you can trace that art form being lost to the day that Richard “Rip” Hamilton retired because there may have been no one better at it in recent memory. Over his fourteen-year career Rip made a living of hustling all over the floor, coming off screens and hitting that beautiful two point jumper. Not many understand how special of a player he was better than the Pistons and their fans. Now the team has decided to etch his place in franchise history forever by retiring his jersey.

It was announced today that the Pistons would be raising Rip’s number 32 jersey to the rafters this February. There will be a halftime ceremony on the 26th, in a game vs the Boston Celtics, where he will be honored by the team and the fans. Hamilton joins former Pistons teammates Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups as the third member of the “goin to work” Pistons era.

“Our franchise has a great legacy and it’s important to recognize the players who made our organization successful both on and off the court,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores.  “Rip’s numbers speak for themselves.  He was a top performer year in and year out, from the regular season through the playoffs and especially during the championship run of 2004.  He was relentless on the court and equally passionate about his teammates and the community.  We are excited to honor his success.”

Rip spent nine seasons in Detroit from 2002 to 2011. During that time he was the Pistons leading scorer eight times. On a team that was most known for its defense, he was consistently the team’s go to player when they needed to score. Over his nine years with the team, Hamilton averaged 18.4 points per game. In the grand scale of Pistons history, Rip ranks 6th overall in team points and 7th overall in team assists.

With Rip leading the charge offensively the Pistons went to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals and two NBA finals. The highlight of these post season successes was, of course, the five-game series win over the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA title. We saw Rip elevate his game in these times when the spotlight was the brightest, taking his scoring average up to 20.6 points per game.

I personally will always remember that epic clash between the Pistons and the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals in 2004 (the year they would eventually go on to win the championship). The match up between Rip Hamilton and Pacers long time star shooting guard Reggie Miller was the stuff of NBA legends. Miller, one of the greatest shooters in the history of basketball, had always been famous for coming off screens and knocking down three-pointers. Hamilton had based his game off of Miller’s in so many ways, except Rip did most of his damage in the mid-range jumper as opposed to the three ball. Watching Rip out shoot and out score Miller in every game of that series was like the passing of the torch, from one all-time great shooter to another.

In the wake of the announcement to have his jersey retired by the team he spent the majority of his career with, Hamilton had this to say:

“Detroit is where I celebrated the greatest achievements in my pro basketball career and to be recognized by the organization in this way, I’m honored.”

It is fitting that Rip will have his number raised to the rafters in the final season that the team will play in the Palace, seeing as he was part of the last team to help raise a championship banner there. He is one of the faces of that age of Pistons basketball, even though that face usually wore a protective mask. His effort on the offensive end and jump shot win forever live in the memory of Pistons fans. So when people say that the art of the mid-range jumper is gone, Pistons fans will always be able to look up and know that it will forever be alive in the motor city.