Rip Hamilton is ready to go… far


Dec 15

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Richard “Rip” Hamilton concluded his first practice with the Bulls Thursday, then joined the team headed for Indianapolis for the opening of two preseason games before the Christmas Day opener in Los Angeles.

Hamilton, in a light and jovial mood after a three-hour practice, said he was thrilled to be joining what he considered a title contending team in the Bulls, willing to do whatever is asked of him whether starting or coming off the bench, and was looking forward to potential playoff matchups with the likes of Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen.

Hamilton, who switched to his No. 32 he wore with Detroit in a trade with C.J. Watson, who will now wear No. 7, wasn’t wearing his trademark headband during much of practice, but talked about wearing it along with his protective facemask. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said the issue hadn’t been discussed yet internally or with Hamilton. It is reasonable Hamilton could wear a headband, generally discouraged in team history, because of his face mask which could fog up with perspiration without a head band.

Though the principal issue with Hamilton for the Bulls is whether he can perhaps be the final piece that makes the likes of the Heat, Celtics and Magic sweat when it comes to the playoffs.

Here’s some of Hamilton’s comments from his 10-minute session with reporters at the Berto Center:

“(Practice) was exciting. The coach, guys on the team helping me through different plays. It’s a whole new system, but it was exciting playing basketball again.

“Basketball is basketball at the end of the day, but it will be an adjustment, adjusting to the guys on the floor, their likes and dislikes. But hopefully I can learn fast.

“It (the Bulls) are an awesome fit for me. When I looked at their team, they won 62 games last year. So they were already a great team before me. I thought it was an opportunity where I could help. The guys are real cool. I knew Booz, Luol, D, Rose, so I’m excited. I talked to Lindsey (Hunter) for hours. I talked to Ben Wallace for hours. I even talked to BG (Ben Gordon). They had nothing but positive, good things to say about the organization. So I was happy.

“(It was) very awkward (to put on the Bulls jersey). When you are with an organization as long as I was you think you will retire there, it’s different, but I’m excited about my situation.

“(Last season) 25 minutes a game (the falloff in scoring). Last year was last year. I’m excited about being here and that’s where I’ll take it. I never had an issue with coach Kuester. Everyone said. But if you look in the media you never heard a comment come out of my mouth, you never heard a comment come out of his mouth.

“It’s not many chances to play with the MVP of the league. The kid is very special. He can do pretty much any and every thing. I just want to help him, have his back and be ready to ride with him.

“I knew since I was 24, 25 when coach Larry Brown coached me he really stressed defense. That’s how we won a championship in Detroit. We didn’t really care that much about the offense. We knew if we shut teams down. Certain games your shot won’t fall. But you can’t let a team beat you on hustle and defense and I’m happy to be in a situation to get back to those key things.

“I’m coming here to do whatever coach and organization want me to do. If they want me to come in and play 20 minutes, I’ll do that. If they want me play 30, I’ll do that. Whatever I’ll be fine. My biggest thing is I want to win a world championship. I won it once. I had an opportunity to win it again but didn’t. Now it’s an opportunity to feel good you have a chance again. So I’m excited.

“I learned a lot today. It wasn’t even basketball, like I was in college in class, learning where I was supposed to be, the offensive sets, the defensive sets. So it was very confusing. I thought I was going to come in and just turn it on, but it didn’t work out that way (so Hamilton was uncertain about playing Friday).

“Rip comes from my dad, small town. I was always looked at as little Rip because my dad was big Rip. It kind of stuck with me as a kid. One time Dick Vitale said it on TV, so now everyone calls me Rip. Before it was the people who knew me. Everyone called me Richard. Now it’s Rip.

“Headband, mask. That’s my look. That’s my cape. I can’t live without it. I can’t play without it. It’s kind of like my twist. I have no idea (if it’s OK with the Bulls). Ben was positive about the organization. He didn’t say anything.

“I love the game of basketball and I feel I can help this team in some many ways. They’ve got a great group of guys. Today in the first day of practice showed me they want to win it. When that clock turned it was time to go. I liked it a lot.

“I played against those guys (Wade, etc) in the Eastern Conference finals for nine, 10 straight years in the Eastern Conference finals. When you get into the playoffs, you know what I like to do, I know what you like to do. It’s a dog fight. Now it’s who’s going to out will each other. I’ve been there. I love it. I live for it. So I’m excited to get back there.

“My game is running around. A lot of it is endurance. Doing things guys hate to guard. I think that will allow me to play for a long time. So I keep working on my craft.

“The only thing I’ve lost is that trophy when I was 26. Now I want to get that thing back.”

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