They’ll soon be joined in the Palace rafters by another from the 2004 championship team – Richard Hamilton’s No. 32.
No date has been set but Richard Hamilton will be the next Piston from the 2004 NBA championship team to have his jersey retired, No. 32, according to a person with firsthand knowledge of the organization’s thinking.
I would’ve retired Ben’s and Billups’ number and left it at that from the 2004 team. Despite the myth of a perfectly balanced starting unit, those two were a cut above the rest – Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace.
Perhaps unfairly, Ben and Billups also get credit for exiting Detroit on better terms. They were the first starters to go, so fans don’t associate them with the team’s decline. Plus, both returned to finish their careers with the Pistons.
Hamilton, on the other hand, became whiny as a contract extension locked him into a team that didn’t win as much as he wanted (but paid him more than he was worth). It got so ugly, Detroit bought him out, eating a substantial portion of his salary.
The good far outweighed the bad, though. Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring every season between 2003 and 2010. He provided a seemingly endless supply of energy, running around screen after screen away from the ball. His scoring with then-Ron Artest guarding him during the 2004 Eastern Conference finals – a defensive slugfest at its best – was instrumental in putting Detroit over the top.
This probably opens the door for Rasheed and Prince getting their numbers retired, too.
As someone who grew up in Michigan and cheered those Pistons, I’m not at all upset with this decision. Hamilton is a reasonable choice for number retirement, as are Sheed and Prince.
I just wouldn’t done it if I were in charge.