Pistons say goodbye to their “Running Man” Hamilton

Rick Hamilton Detroit Pistons NBA

After nine seasons in Detroit, Rip Hamilton ranks sixth all-time in scoring for the Pistons.

If it looked like Richard Hamilton was constantly in motion during his tenure with the Detroit Pistons, you don’t know the half of it.

When he was on the court, Hamilton displayed an array of moves to get open so he could receive a pass and get to the net. #32 was one of the best in the NBA at moving without the basketball.

But what many people don’t know is that Hamilton was moving almost every chance he got while he was in Detroit, whether he was on the court or not. The 6-foot-7 guard, who was a three-time All-Star and integral part of the second Pistons dynasty which included an NBA title in 2004, has always loved to run.

Although the popular Piston has several nicknames: “Rip” and “Masked Marvel” most famously, he probably should have been known as Detroit’s “Running Man” because of the spring in his legs and incredible durability. When he was a teenager, Hamilton was so good, so fast, that he made his high school track team without even training.

“The coach said,’Rip, you don’t even have to come to the practices. Just show up for the meet’ “, Hamilton told Runner’s World in 2004.

A miler, Hamilton was amazing – winning every race he ran in high school except one, when he miscalculated how many laps he had to go. His love of speed never left him – at the University of Connecticut his coaches constantly tried to slow him down. But they didn’t slow him down too much – he helped the Huskies to the NCAA Title in 1999 when he was named the tournament’s Outstanding Player. Later in Detroit, Hamilton clashed at times with Larry Brown because of his fast breaks up the hardwood, Brown wanting him to slow down, see the floor, and set up the offense.

Hamilton’s nickname “Rip” goes back a long way, and it hints at his speedy ways. As a baby, Hamilton tore away his diapers, ripping them in an effort to break free from their constraints. Even as an infant, Hamilton had somewhere to go fast. His father dubbed him “Rip” because of all the diaper ripping.

Even during grueling basketball seasons, Hamilton has been a runner, usually running several miles on his days off from practice or adding a fast mile after practice if he felt he needed it. Regardless, Hamilton’s philosophy was always to run all out. He sprints his miles as fast as he can, preferring to run to exhaustion.

This week, after having his contract bought out by the Pistons, for whom he starred for nine seasons, Hamilton ends his stellar career with Detroit. He leaves behind an impressive legacy in Motown. He’s the all-time Pistons playoff scoring leader, supplanting Isiah Thomas. He was part of the swaggering Detroit teams that advanced to six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, something only the legendary Boston Celtics teams of the 1960s and early 1970s accomplished. He scorched the Knicks for 51 points one night, becoming the only player not named Michael Jordan to go for 50 at Madison Square Garden. He led his team in scoring one game when he didn’t make a field goal, making all of his shots from the free throw line. He wore that famous mask after breaking his nose twice in the same season, calling it his “Superman Cape” as he continued to wear it the remainder of his career. When he was used as a sixth man later in his Pistons stay, he scored 38 points off the bench against the Bucks, the most by a reserve in franchise history.

“I’m proud to be a Piston,” Hamilton has said. “I’ll always be a Piston in my heart.”

Hamilton leaves as one of the greatest players in franchise history, but he’s not being run out of town, he’s just taking his “running man” act someplace else.

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