9 Dec 1998: Guard Khalid El-Amin #42 and guard/forward Richard Hamilton #32 of the UConn Huskies confer during the game against the UMass Minutemen at Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. UConn defeated UMass
Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport

Detroit Pistons Legend is Being Honored by His Alma Mater

Earlier this week, it was announced that three-time NBA All-Star, 2004 NBA Champion, and Detroit Pistons legend Rip Hamilton will be having his #32 college jersey retired by UConn, his alma mater.

The announcement was made by UConn, who noted that Hamilton will become just the second male player (alongside Ray Allen) in UConn basketball history to have their jersey retired by the school. The retirement ceremony will take place on February 24th, during halftime of a UConn men's game against Villanova. 

Hamilton earning this rare honor among a legendary college basketball program makes sense, considering that he's one of the most decorated players in UConn's prestigious history. 

Although Hamilton only played three seasons at UConn before being drafted 7th Overall in 1999, his 2,036 career points at UConn ranks second on the school's all-time scoring list. Hamilton's 19.7 career scoring average in Big East Conference games is also the highest of any UConn player who played in over 10 conference games.

Hamilton wasn't solely a scorer, either. He was also a two-time All-American, two-time Big East Player of the Year award winner, and led the Huskies to their first NCAA National Championship in 1999.

The 145 points that Hamilton scored throughout that 1999 NCAA tournament is the most in the tournament's history for UConn player. For that 1999 tournament, Hamilton was also named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, as well as Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional.

Of course, Hamilton — who played 14 NBA seasons with the Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, and Chicago Bulls — is perhaps best known for two things:

  1. Being an integral part of the Pistons' 2004 championship team; who, despite being massive underdogs, defeated the dynastic Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
  2. Wearing a protective face mask throughout his career, which was the result of him breaking his nose twice during that 2003-04 Pistons championship season.

While Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups won Finals MVP after Detroit's upset victory, it was Hamilton that normally got tasked with guarding late legend Kobe Bryant throughout the series. Considering how low-scoring each Finals game was, Hamilton's defensive prowess deserves a ton of credit for helping Detroit secure that championship. 

Hamilton was an unsung hero throughout his NBA career; which is why it's so great to see his alma mater honoring him by retiring his jersey. 

Now, we can hope the Pistons will find some way to honor Hamilton's iconic face mask.

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