In the Detroit Pistons 99-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls, an observer could say Richard Hamilton showed why Detroit never should have let him go.
I'm not going to say that. The Pistons clearly need to go with a youth movement, and Hamilton is better off with a well-established contender. In fact, the better question would be not why they let Rip Hamilton walk, but why they kept an equally aging Tayshaun Prince.
Still, Pistons TV analyst Greg Kelser made a good point early in the second half. Hamilton at that point had scored a scant three points on only three shots. Kelser noted that when a player faces his old team, he often is tempted to push too hard and take too many shots, in order to try to "prove" something. Hamilton had not fallen into this pit; he was playing as though he had no need to prove anything.
Rip eventually finished with 14 points, a bucket above his average during his short tenure with the Bulls, on 5 for 9 shooting with 5 nice assists.
He's the Pistons' sixth-leading career scorer, and he wasn't known for being selfish until last season, when he had his infamous series of clashes with then-Coach John Kuester. Hamilton in retrospect may wish he had handled things differently, but I'm not going to hold that against him. After all, he didn't bench himself.
He seems to be an ideal fit in Chicago, where young MVP point guard Derrick Rose needed a shooter by his side in the backcourt to ease some of the scoring pressure. Now that Rip Hamilton is in place, Rose can focus more on dishing the ball. He had 17 points and 10 dimes against the Pistons. Not to overly stretch my point, but this reminds me of when Joe Dumars joined Isiah Thomas in the Bay Boys Pistons backcourt, helping Isiah become a pass-first player, and the 'Stones became two-time NBA champs.
I also don't want to dwell on a Rip Hamilton vs. Ben Gordon scenario, even through Ben had a horrible night with 7 points on 2 for 10 shooting and a dumb flagrant foul late in the game when the Pistons were making a mild attempt at a comeback. For now, I'll stand by my most recent blog, "Gordon Off to Solid Start," even though I still have my doubts. Hamilton will only have to play a role for the Bulls, while Gordon sometimes will feel that the Pistons' weak offense (third worst in the NBA) is all on his shoulders. Even at that, Gordon, unlike Hamilton, was pressing too hard in their first head-to-head encounter.