October/November 2005 Pistons Articles

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  1. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    Rip article from somewhere on the Internet

    Part One:

    RIP HAMILTON HAS IT ALL, AND ALL HE WANTS TO DO IS SHARE IT WITH HIS HOMETOWN BOYS
    BY CHRIS PALMER PHOTOGRAPHS BY TURE LILLEGRAVEN

    Richard Hamilton plops his angular frame into a chair in front of a mirrored barbershop wall on the second floor of his 5,000-square-foot crib in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. His personal barber, James Wilson, gets down to trimming the stragglers on his forehead and temples. In walks Hamilton's first cousin, Jontue Long, in a size 52 jersey embroidered with “Rip City” on the front and “Coatesville” on the back. Rip calls the jersey Jontue's tux. Henry Cooper, a friend of 12 years and Rip's personal assistant, is wearing the same jersey. Hey, at least the color scheme is different. (Rip should talk; he has over 100 of the jerseys in his closet, done in all the NBA team colors.)
    Before long, nearly a dozen friends, almost all from Hamilton's beloved hometown of Coatesville, Pa., have turned the room into a comedy lounge. They rib each other the way they once did back at Ron's Barber Shop. The easygoing Cooper, who, according to Coatesville legend, once drove a moped
    through Ron's front window, is a quick target. Talk is of girls and old boys, the league and their next jaunt to Miami.
    Tonight is Rip's 27th birthday, and his whole crew is in town for the occasion. Haircut completed, Hamilton reties his ever-present do-rag and heads downstairs. On the white-marble floor in the two-story foyer, he towers over everyone. “How many we got?” he asks. “Fifteen? Sixteen? Seventeen? Who are the designated drivers? How
    many cars do we need? Better bring 'em all.”
    “Tonight's gonna be a classic!” Long says.
    “Yes, siiiiir,” says Rip, shouting a catchphrase he's used since high school. His boys call it a Coatesville thing. It usually signals that all is well with Rip, C-Ville or the Pistons.
    And all has been quite well lately, thank you. Entering his seventh season, the 6’7" shooting guard is living a life naysayers back home told him he shouldn't dare dream about. To rub it in the skeptics' faces, Hamilton makes sure the boys he grew up with get to live it right along with him. “Being in the league allows me to meet all kinds of people and see some incredible places,” he says. “I want my friends to experience that too.”
    “THERE USED to be a highway sign that let you know when you got to Coatesville, but they took it down,” Hamilton says. “Then I looked on a map
    and we weren't on there. Where's the respect?”
    Hamilton has made it his life's work to show the world what Coatesville can produce. The blue-collar community, framed by farmland and rolling hills, is 40 minutes west of Philly. It is a small town (pop. 11,000), but not without big-city problems. “We have everything Philly has,” says Long. He means high unemployment and mean streets.
    But living in Coatesville got Hamilton where he is today. Folks trudging back and forth to the steel
    mill in the dead of winter showed him there was no shame in working for a living. Coaches taught him that staying after practice was time well spent. Friends' parents always kept their couches and kitchens open. It takes a village, right? In Rip's mind, the loyalty he shows his hometown repays that debt. “It's where my heart beats,” he says.
    So even though Hamilton no longer lives there, he always keeps C-Ville close. At least one member of the crew is always crashing at his house, and when the Pistons are on the road, the “CV” embroidered on the back of his game sneakers reminds him of where it all began. There are few moments in Rip's life his homeys don't share with him. With the exception of the 15-minute drive to and from practice, Hamilton rarely goes anywhere by himself. Not to the grocery store. Not to the West Indies. “If they weren't around, I wouldn't feel right,” Rip says. “Once I drove to a game by myself, and the parking attendant looked at me like something was wrong.”
    The group have known each other since they could walk. But they didn't really grow tight until they got to high school. Rip, Long, Michael “Spud” Hamilton (another cousin), Milton Baxter and Carl Hines all were on the basketball team. Cooper was the manager. They hung out at the barbershop when they weren't balling and studied together when they weren't chasing girls. Acing advancedplacement classes was as important as making the basketball team.
    Yes, at first glance they look like most of the crews that have come before them. But don't judge the homey by the throwback. “We're not his entourage or posse,” says longtime pal Mark Brown, a financial adviser with Smith Barney. His dark-blue business suits stick out among the Rip City jerseys. “Our friendship is from the heart, as real as anything there is. We all have our own productive lives, but it seems like we've been together forever.”
    After earning an accounting degree from Bucknell in 2001, Long got a job as an analyst at SEI Wealth Network, a suburban Philadelphia financial-planning firm. Baxter, who attended Bucknell with Long, is an engineer with Whirlpool. A touch-screen oven he designed hit stores this
    past spring. Wilson, the barber, just opened his own shop in DC. A native of the District, he's a relative newcomer to the crew, having latched on during Rip's rookie season in 1999.
    To seal their bond and solidify their allegiance, Rip decided, in the summer of 2002, that the crew should get “CV FOR LIFE” tattooed onto their abdomens. All except Spud. “He has a big stomach,” Rip says. “So we let him get it on his shoulder.” Because he's usually wearing a shirt,
    Hamilton also has CVs on his jewel-encrusted bling and on his license plates. “It's such a great place,” he says with a smile, his two front Chiclets gleaming. “When you leave, you can't wait to get back.”
    ASH PARK is where Rip Hamilton the basketball player was raised. Two slabs of well-worn asphalt in a small valley defined by steep, grassy hills, the place is a workaday Coliseum. Chain-link nets hang from hoops supported by steel poles that have
    always been hazardous to fast-breakers. Ash Park is where reps were made. That Rip (his dad, Richard Sr., had the nickname before him) and his boys had to pass through the Oak Street projects to get to the courts was just extra incentive to bring it.
    Even back then, if you were playing Rip, you needed track shoes. He never stopped and never tired. “The way his heart and lungs work is a gift,” says Long. In high school, Hamilton could churn out five-minute miles without warming up. These days he runs his pit bulls, Shark and Diamond, until they're on the verge of collapse-just as he does NBA defenders.
    Combine his “gift” with exceptional balance and agility and you begin to get why Hamilton is such a tough cover. He has an uncanny ability to maneuver through double-teams, dash around picks and slalom in and out of a forest of swiping arms and legs. He's always in an upright posture, always ready to catch a pass and release his pullup. Over the past four years, he's averaged 19 points on just 16 shots a game. “He's a coach's dream,” says Larry Brown. “He appreciates fundamentals and is always moving. You love that in a player.”
    It wasn't always so. In Coatesville, Rip was a dribbler. “He'd take six or seven dribbles like he was an And 1 player,” says Ricky Hicks, then the
    freshman team coach at Coatesville Area High and now a member of the CV crew. “His energy level and basketball IQ were incredible, but I knew we had to get rid of the dribbling.”
  2. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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    Part Two:

    It wasn’t easy, but Hicks got it done. He limited Rip to one or two dribbles before he shot and trained him to curl off chairs and shoot over brooms. He made him run from halfcourt, stop about 18 feet out, catch a pass and shoot. Hamilton returned to Ash Park in the evenings to try out the new way, playing in pickup games until the lights went off. He stopped dribbling, all right, and wound up developing a midrange game as well.
    By 10th grade, Hamilton was starting for the Coatesville Area varsity. In his senior season, he and his buddies lost in the 1996 district semifinal playoffs to Lower Merion High and a kid named Bryant. “Rip definitely held his own against Kobe,” Long says. “Kobe had 29, but Rip didn’t expect to shut him down. Kobe had some nice dunks and played to the crowd. Rip played the same way he does now.” Hamilton had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss.
    Rip took his lungs and pull-up to UConn and three years later led the 1999 Huskies to a 33–2
    record and the school’s first national championship. Coatesville was in the stands at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on that March night. Jontue, Coach Hicks and Brown were witness to the big win. And when Rip was drafted seventh overall by the Wizards, Coatesville got the call too. Cooper moved in to help him get settled in DC, and the others visited when class schedules permitted.
    It quickly became clear that life in the pros was different. Basketball was a job now. There were more demands on Rip’s time; he belonged to everyone. For the fellas, that took some getting used to. “We’d walk down the street, and people would pull him in all different directions, asking for pictures and autographs, and we’d just be standing there,” says Long. “We didn’t know how to act.”
    But when the admirers dispersed, his friends saw that the attention threw Rip too. “He was rich and famous, but he was still Rip,” says Long. “He was still Coatesville.” Still the Rip who, as a teen, tried to wiggle his way out of cutting the lawn at his uncle’s house by saying he didn’t want to get his
    new sneaks grassy. Imagine his chagrin when Jontue’s pop bought him a pair of work boots.

    The Coatesville crew have made their peace with the fans and the demands and the spotlight now. Not to mention the good life. They can always count on nice seats at Pistons games. Jontue loves the way the Bentley Coupe handles. Everyone counts meeting MJ as one of the best moments of their lives. And no summer is complete without a trip to Miami on the tricked-out charter plane.
    Rip rented a five-bedroom South Beach mansion on the water for 10 days this July. The guest list read like the Coatesville phone book. By day they rode scooters up and down Ocean Drive, took in the scenery at Wet Willie’s, played water basketball in
    the backyard pool. But the evenings were not unlike those in C-Ville. The crew played tonk and spades and retold one neighborhood tale after another. “We don’t need to go out to have fun, not even in Miami,” says Baxter. “All we need is everyone together. That’s what fun is to us.”

    Reminders of home are everywhere, but none is rustier than the one that sits by the curb of the driveway in front of Hamilton’s
    Michigan mansion. By his junior year of high school, Rip had saved enough cash mowing lawns and trimming hedges (yes, those boots came in handy) to buy a 1981 Cutlass. The body was dinged, the roof sagged, the tires were bald and it was prone to overheating. But his boys called it the Lexus Coupe, and
    Rip beamed when he drove it. “It would smoke so bad we had to hold our breath,” says Brown. Whenever the crew made weekend trips to Storrs, they carried a list of people they could call in each state along the way if the car broke down.

    After the Pistons won the title in 2004, Rip used a $500,000 bonus to purchase a Maybach. When he slips into the soft leather of the heated bucket seats and lets the 550-hp engine roar, he is cocooned in the pinnacle of automotive luxury, and he knows he’s made it. But the faded paint of the Cutlass keeps him real.
    So do his boys. Every August, Hamilton holds a Rip City Day celebration at Ash Park. It’s part family reunion, part county fair, with plenty of
    hoops for the kids. This year, under the shade of 50-foot oak trees, the crew gathers around picnic tables. They hug and apply playful headlocks and elbows to guts that used to be washboards. White Air Force Ones and Rip City jerseys are-of coursethe uniform.

    At one point, Rip takes a break from his host duties and sits with his friends. “Remember the time you almost had a dunk in a game?” Hicks asks the 5’11" Baxter. “That was a few pounds ago,” adds Spud. “Before you looked like a defensive end.”
    Rip smiles and shakes his head. Ain’t no crew like the one he got. Baxter’s father approaches the bunch. He and Rip’s dad played together at Coatesville Area in the 1970s. He starts to tell
    stories of his own when Rip’s mom stops by to check on the boys. She greets strangers with hugs.
    Then a woman in her mid-30s whom nobody quite recognizes steps forward. “Milton, is that you?” she says to Baxter. A quick review of family trees reveals they are cousins. They hug. “That’s how it is here,” says Hamilton. “Everyone in Coatesville is one person away from being related.”
    The subject of Ron the barber comes up. His shop closed a few years ago. “Let’s just say Ron has gone away for a while,” says Jontue. There are some chuckles, but then everyone grows quiet for the first time all day. You can see it on their faces. They know the old neighborhood is changing.
    All the more reason to stay the same.
  3. Zoso

    Zoso First Round Draft Pick

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  4. basketbills

    basketbills All-Star Forum Donor

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    Cb

    You have to give CB a lot of credit for his honesty. As a team leader though I have to wonder why he didn't step up and do something at the time, isn't that what a team leader is supposed to do? Would Isiah Thomas have let someone on his team get bullied like this without his consent? No. The blame can't be all on Larry Brown. Why didn't Joe step up and protect the kid if it was so bad? More questions than answers from CB's comments.
  5. legend71

    legend71 Second Round Draft Pick

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    I don't know. With a Championship run taking place, I don't think Joe D was about to undercut the coach and ruin what was working pretty well. I don't Brown would tolerate Joe D's interference either being the veteran coach that he is. But truthfully, if Darko would just get in there and rebound and play D, he probably could have gained a spot in the rotation. Instead he wants to be Novitsky.....
  6. Jackattaq

    Jackattaq First Round Draft Pick

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    I highly doubt

    that LB ever had ANY intention of playing Darko. Yeah, yeah, just go on and say that all LB asked of him was to rebound and defend and he would get minutes but those of us who watched closely know that wasn't the truth. Darko played pretty well in Ben's absence (brawl suspension 6 games) and Dice's absence (calf injury 5 games). Did he get any reward or accolaides from his coach for stepping in and working hard? LB's response was to glue him to the bench for the next 2 months. It was just like, everytime the kid took a few steps in a positive direction his coach was itching to pull the chair out and "teach him a lesson".

    I for one will NEVER miss that coach. He trashed too many Pistons in his two years here, He chased away Okur, trashed Delfino, and never gave Darko a shot, trashed on Arroyo. His shortened rotation could have hurt the Pistons development for the next few years. Hopefully Flip can fix it.

    BTW: The Pistons were a team on the brink of a title with Professionals on it. Any of the top 10 coaches in the NBA would have won the title if they got the Detroit job that year. They would have won the title with or without LB. Gotta love a coach who refuses to play Okur against Scalabrine in a 3OT game. (sarcasm off now).
  7. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    I will miss him if we don't make the Finals this year. I for one am not happy with players everyone likes but coming up short on the big goal.

    I don't think fixing is the problem. Since any of the top 10 could win with this team, and LB ain't all that and a bag of chips, I hope that Flip doesn't screw it up.
  8. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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  9. mercury

    mercury Bench Warmer

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  10. webz

    webz All-Star Administrator 2x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    yeah something was going on there, they seemed to lose about 4 articles, then didn't update for a week. they haven't said anything much about davis and evans yet, not many quotes either.
  11. ggazoo69

    ggazoo69 Team Captain Forum Donor

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    McCoskey

    Lots of times beat writers are on vacation for much of the offseason because they've accumulated so much comp time during the season. But it doesn't explain the News not assigning someone else to do some offseason writing. I guess the paper didn't feel a pressing need.
  12. buddahfan

    buddahfan Retired from Forum

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    Did The Pistons Actually Make An Offer To Finley?

    According to McCosky the Pistons actually made an offer to Finley in the amount of their mid-level exception; i..e, $5 million a year. Even the ESPN story on Mo Evans said the same thing.

    I don't recall the Pistons ever making an offer to Finley. I know that they offered Davis his $3.5 million a year before Finley met with teams in Chicago.

    I am curious if the Pistons actually offered Finley a deal or is McCosky just trying to stir the pot with falsehoods? If the Pistons actually offered Finley a deal and anyone has the link I would appreciate it if they could post it.

    Thanks
  13. Zoso

    Zoso First Round Draft Pick

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    buddahfan

    I don't recall the Pistons making an offer either.

    I did a search and all it said in every one of the articles was what we "could offer finley..." Nowhere did I see that we actually made an offer. So it sounds made up to me.
  14. jammertime

    jammertime Starter 1x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    Finley

    I had thought that they made an offer, but I could be wrong. Maybe they were just "in talks" and nothing was made official.

    I also got the impression that Finley wasn't terribly interested in playing for the Piston's when there were warmer weathered contenders offering him just as much money and more playing time.

    I think Joe D. made a pre-emptive decision by signing Davis, rather than waiting to be officially passed over when Finley eventually signed with someone - he didn't seem to be in any big hurry.

    The Pistons were always on the outside looking in on this one. A long shot to land him from the beginning. Joe D. isn't one to just sit back while he's getting the cold shoulder.
  15. Tyskillz

    Tyskillz First Round Draft Pick

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    No doubt Merc, it's about damn time the News gave us something, SHEESH!!! No excuse for that long of a time period passing by and not putting out anything. I mean they just totally let the big news of C-note sticking up for young Darko go past them like it was nothing. They really need to get their priorities together over there....
  16. Tyskillz

    Tyskillz First Round Draft Pick

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    According to McCosky....

    Indeed Joe definitely made attempts for Finley but wasn't getting much of a response therefore wisely moved on. Check out this clip from one mccosky's articles today...

    "In Dumars' defense, he made a pitch to the best free-agent shooter on the market -- Michael Finley. The Pistons offered the full mid-level exception (starting at $5 million) and were rebuked. Finley didn't like the idea of coming off the Pistons' bench and signed with the Spurs."

    Joe and staff didn't go all the way to chi-town to kiss up to Finley like other suitors did, but he certainly cast his line out there with some nice bait. Making a play for Finley was only common sense folks (especially with the squad we have to offer), Joe has NEVER been a fool therefore I never had a doubt he at least gave it the ole college try....
  17. buddahfan

    buddahfan Retired from Forum

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    I Still Don't Believe McCosky

    In spite of what he says.

    I reason as follows.

    Last spring the Pistons tried to get Dale Davis. As Joe D. has said many times and continues to say the way to NBA finals in the East is through Shaq. So Joe D. wanted another big man last spring who could give him 10 -15 solid minutes so that Brown didn't have to go to "small ball" because of his 2 and 4 foul rules.

    Dumars was not successful last spring in getting Davis, but obviously after last year's playoffs Dumars still thought that the Pistons needed more proven experience up front with a solid big man who can rebound and defend. Davis can do this Finley can't.

    The only money that the Pistons had to spend on free agents was their mid-level exception of about $5 million. I believe that Davis was Joe D.'s first choice to spend most of that money on. What ever, if anything he had left over he would use to look for a guy that could play some defense and score from the 3 and 4 slots.

    I believe that Joe D. would have taken Finley over Mo Evans if Finley had agreed to come for $1.5 million. But of course Finley wouldn't do that so he signed elsewhere; i.e., with San Antonio. Whether Detroit ever offered Finley the $1.5 million we will probably never know. But I am pretty sure that they never offered him the $5 million or anything close to it. They had been after Davis since last March. This was the man Joe D. wanted to spend the bulk of the mid level exception on, not Finley.
  18. bricalz

    bricalz First Round Draft Pick

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    Finley Offer

    Guys, some things aren't placed in print.

    I really synthesize my own opinions from what I read so from my point of view, Joe did make an "offer" to Finley. He talked to him albeit over the phone, probably stated his case that this is a championship caliber team and that he'd probably be coming off the bench and would be willing to give the whole 5 mil but was wishing probably that he'd take less.

    That is an offer to me. Joe was basically handing him that offer and it was there for a verbal agreement but Finley chose to wait it out and see what was out there.

    I don't blame him for going to San Antonio. That team is strong too. It's where old cats go to get their rings. Mad Dog got his there, Barry, but guess we'd have to disappoint him this time.

    No question that Evans wouldn't be here if Finley said yes but he didn't. It's not a bad pick-up though and I'd love to see what he brings to the table.

    THere's always that midseason Joe D. Trade magic.......:eyebrows:
  19. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater All-Star Forum Donor 6x Fantasy Champion

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    bricalz

    Yeah, I too thought that was the way it went down with Dumars and Finley. Joe makes a 5 million dollar verbal offer and after a bit Dumars could see Finley was highly unlikely to sign with Detroit. So Joe took an alternative route rather than wait for Finley to officially sign elsewhere after it would probably be too late for Joe to get his next best options (Davis and Evans).
  20. Zoso

    Zoso First Round Draft Pick

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    Here's a couple articles from today's Oakland Press and a few AS Blakely pieces.

    Pistons had to cut cord with Brown
    http://theoaklandpress.com/stories/100505/spo_2005100508.shtml

    Hunter must ease into his 13th season
    http://theoaklandpress.com/stories/100505/spo_2005100511.shtml

    CHECKING THE PISTONS
    http://www.mlive.com/pistons/stories/index.ssf?/base/sports-1/1128507009327270.xml&coll=1

    Pistons adapting to the idea of playing zone
    http://www.mlive.com/pistons/stories/index.ssf?/base/sports-1/1128507001327270.xml&coll=1
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