The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s No. 3 and Chauncey Billups’ No. 1.
Next up from Detroit’s 2004 championship team? As expected, Richard Hamilton’s No. 32.
The Detroit Pistons announced today that the club will honor and retire the jersey for Richard Hamilton during the 2016-17 season. Hamilton will be honored during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m. when the Pistons host the Boston Celtics at The Palace.
“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.”
Hamilton spent nine seasons with Detroit (2002-2011) leading the Pistons in scoring during eight of those nine seasons. He is one of just six players in Pistons’ franchise history to reach the 11,000-point plateau and one of five players to score 50-plus points in a game (51 at New York, 12/27/06). During his tenure the club made six consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals (2003-2008), two trips to the NBA Finals (2004, 2005) and won the NBA Championship in 2004. Hamilton was also named an NBA All-Star in three consecutive seasons from 2005-08. In 631 games as a Piston, the Coatesville, PA native averaged 18.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and ranks sixth in points, free throws made and field goals made, seventh in assists, minutes and three-point field goals made and 10th in games played in franchise history.
“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,” said Hamilton. “I look forward to sharing this experience with all the fans who supported me throughout my years as a Piston and look forward to celebrating in The Palace one final time. Yessirr.”
I would’ve retired Wallace’s and Billups’ numbers and left it there, but I also don’t have a problem with this approach – including the trickle-down effects. If they’re retiring Hamilton’s number, how can they not retire Rasheed Wallace’s? And if they retire Wallace’s number, how can they not retire Tayshaun Prince’s?
Hamilton cut tirelessly around off-ball screens for years in Detroit, a credit to his phenomenal conditioning. He was so smooth, he made mid-range shooting, face masks and the phrase “Yessir” cool. Hamilton’s best moments came in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals, when Hamilton’s scoring ability stood out in a hard-fought, grinding, defense-first matchup with the Pacers.
But his final years with the Pistons were so ugly, they bought out a hefty portion of his contract to dump him. It tarnished his legacy in Detroit. Time was necessary to heal those wounds.
Now, everyone can focus on the good times – and there were far more of those than bad. Hamilton helped turn the Pistons from good to great with an endearing style, and it’s nice to see him honored.