How Do I Hate Rip Hamilton? Let Me Count the Ways.

Richard Hamilton.

I hesitate to even go into it at this point because it’s too easy. This post is probably a few years late. Of course I hate Rip now. We’re 20 games under .500 and headed straight for the lottery. He’s old and overpaid and well past the modest prime he achieved following the Pistons’ lone championship in 2004. So let the record show I have always hated Rip. From the moment the Pistons traded Stackhouse for Hamilton I have always given him the full Silky Johnson treatment. Mostly because he’s soft as pudding and completely out of wack with the tough, defensive mindset of the franchise. But also because of his one-dimensional game, malcontent attitude and inability to keep his mouth shut at the most crucial moments.

Not that I haven’t written extensively on this subject before. Starting on the Pistons official message board during the early part of this decade (The same board that would produce several notable national sports bloggers like those behind Need4Sheed & Ball Don’t Lie), I have consistently beaten the anti-Rip drum. Indeed, it has bordered on an obsession at times. I blame Rip for almost everything bad that’s happened to the city of Detroit in the past eight years. The loss to the Spurs in the 2005 finals? Rip’s fourth quarter disappearing act. The collapse of the Big Three? Somehow related to the stupid fucking mask he wears. Kwame Kilpatrick? Definitely caused by Rip’s aptitude for ill-timed technical fouls and turnovers.

Rip unfortunately falls into that category of players that just don’t possess the internal fortitude to produce when the game is on the line. For the first three quarters he’s a relatively productive scorer from 15-20 feet, provided you design your offense around him and let him shoot incessantly. His passing and handle have improved over the years and he’s even picked up his man-to-man defense. But at the end of the day he’s a shooting guard without much shooting range. He can’t create his own shot and he folds like a house of cards in the fourth quarter. That’s how Chauncey Billups became Mr. Big Shot. Somehow had to step up when Rip pulled his nightly disappearing act.

But I’ve got Chris Webber‘s jersey hanging on my wall, so it’s not like the only thing I care about how clutch a player is. I’ve just never thought Rip was any better than a marginal player at a position where it’s easy to find a star. When the Pistons traded for him, Rip was rail-thin swingman without 3-point range who shot less than 45% from the field. Over the years he upped his percentages and expanded his game while the Pistons enjoyed an extended run of success in both the regular season and playoffs. At this point I’ve grudgingly come to respect his approach to the game, conditioning and willingness to put in the work necessary to score 20 points a night in the NBA, which is no easy feat. But I will never back down from my claim that an upgrade at shooting guard was the only thing that stood between the Pistons and multiple championships this decade.

Inevitably our loses in the playoffs could be traced to a deficiency at the two-guard when opposing teams locked in on Chauncey Billups. The Spurs switched Bruce Bowen over to cover Chauncey in the key closing moments but Rip was unable to take advantage of his six-inch height advantage over Tony Parker. Dwayne Wade and LeBron destroyed him in successive Eastern Conference finals (though to be fair, the entire team bears responsibility for the latter). [That LeBron thing was just the Pistons on the wrong side of history. Absolutely bestial. — Ed.] Ray Allen and Paul Pierce provided just enough to propel the Celtics past the Pistons in the crucial moments of their 2008 showdown. After every playoff disappointment I would gaze longingly at the Finals tickets sitting unused in the back of my playoff package and would write thousands of words imploring Joe Dumars to make a move and trade Rip for Allen, for Vince Carter, even for Jason Richardson. But year after year Rip returned, his position seemingly more secure with every disappointing playoff performance.

Eventually when the trade came it was Billups and not Hamilton who left, taking whatever magic there was left in Motown with him. The vastly divergent paths the two have taken since their highly effective backcourt combination was split should be some indication of who was most responsible for the success the Stones enjoyed during the past nine years. Whatever value Rip had for this team is now greatly diminished; had we traded him instead and allowed Rodney Stuckey to start at the two I have no doubt we would still be a playoff team. Instead we find ourselves lost in the wilderness, lacking both leadership and a vision for the future. Much of this is due to Dumars’ mistakes, starting with his decision to draft Darko over Wade and Carmelo Anthony. But somehow even that feels like it must have been Rip’s fault.

Gautham Nagesh covers politics for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • distance88

    All true. But it could be (a little) worse (i.e. the Wizards–sigh).

  • I can never hate him because of what he did here,

    • RtG

      lol @ Cotton Swab Delight

    • The awkward white guy who missed the first jumper in that sequence – my old high school classmate. Hey, we all can’t be heroes.

  • PREACH. (And let’s not forget his weird free throw shooting).

  • Pingback: The case against Rip Hamilton | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment()

  • This is harsh..Rip sucks now because he’s asked to carry the team. but in his prime, he had the BEST midrange game, he was an above average defender, and he hit big shots. And the list of folks getting destroyed by Wade and LeBron grows by the shame there.

    @suitable girl: if you’re a pistons fan, surely you remember adrian dantley’s free throw was weird and has rip’s beat

    and lastly, let’s not forget Rip’s role in this masterpiece of a performace:

  • Lots of things that I got o disagree with you on big time G.D.

    But the first thing that I can address now was the 2005 Finals…..I think we all know Rasheed Wallace leaving Robert Horry open in Game 5 is what killed Pistons chances and not Hamilton’s level of play.

    Saying this as a Knicks fan, you have been spoiled.

  • Not only that, the Pistons “futility” in the latter stages of the postseason had much more to do with Rasheed not staying in the paint and shooting as many 3’s as he wanted, as well as Flip Sanders just not being strong of a coach that Larry Brown is.

  • YES! This is half a kilo of pure, uncut Colombian TRUTH!

    Ok, I hate Rip as a Wizards fan (I know, I know, lame), but I agree whole heartidly with Guest Contributor on this. The dude cannot create his own shot, cannot finish, and cannot shoot deep. His whole game is predicated on weaving through screen, after screen, after screen before taking a wide-open J. That is all well and good, except that the dude acts like he is THE alpha dog of the team. He is the equivalent of Mike Tyson’s homeboy (as described by Martin Lawrence): the guy that talks a lot of smack because Mike Tyson will woop anybody who steps to him. Rip can’t do anything but ride the coattails of his four big brothers (the imposing foursome of Rasheed, Ben, Tayshaun, and Chauncey).

    And he said bad things about the Wizards. Bastard.

  • Reese

    I used to feel the same way about Robert Horry!

  • Chris

    As a Rip Hamilton fan, this post pretty much pisses me off, but I digress. I’m just going to state some facts and leave it at that. Let me just start out by saying blaming Rip for the Pistons, let alone Detroit’s problems like that is unfair. You’re definitely a hater if you think losing the title in ’05 was his fault. Firstly, Rasheed is probably to blame for shifting the paradigm of that series. Secondly, the WHOLE team was is really to blame, as (if you can recall) we were up heading into the third quarter of Game 7 with the momentum our way. And ok, you can say Rip isn’t clutch, but he has hit a number of game winners. Boston anyone? Seattle? Miami? He went head to head with McGrady in Game 2 of the Eastern Quarters in ’03 when McGrady was arguably the most devastating offensive player in the league. He held his own against Kobe in the 2004 Finals. And you think Rip is a marginal shooter and soft, but you want Vince Carter or Jason Richardson?? J-Rich’s explosiveness, along with his heart, is all but gone and we all know Vince’s heart left when he decided to graduate and is now Half Man/Half a jump shot. You can say he’s soft, but you can’t say he’s lazy like the other two guys you’d prefer. Also, marginal players don’t score 51 (and at The Garden, no less). You look at the guys who have scored 50 and 60+ in New York and he’s on the list with current and future hall of famers