Hamilton glad to be back
“At shootaround (Saturday) I told (Kuester) I wouldn’t be able to go because it wasn’t feeling right,” Hamilton said. “I went home and talked to my wife and the one thing she told me was pretty much, ‘Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Go out there play. Go out there and give it a try. You never know how you’re going to feel till you go out there and try to play.’
“I haven’t practiced, I haven’t ran, I haven’t done sprints or anything like that. So when I laid down for my nap, I said, ‘I’m going to make my mind up right now that I’m going to go ahead and play’ Once I put my mind to it, I just went out there and tried to do it tonight.”
Hamilton was able to play more than 36 minutes and scored 18 points. He also became the seventh player in franchise history to score 10,000 points as a Piston, something he was one-point away from when he got hurt. Hamilton said he felt a little rusty Saturday, but was just happy to be on the floor.
“It felt alright, it felt pretty good,” Hamilton said. “I was just happy to be out there on the floor. I didn’t care what anything felt like. I just felt joy being able to play something that you love to do and that’s the game of basketball.
“I haven’t practiced. Tonight was the first time I came off a screen and actually dribbled the ball against somebody. It was just one of those games where I said, ‘I’m going to really see if I’m the best-conditioned athlete in the NBA.’ ”
Hamilton was glad to finally put an injury behind him that took 45 days to recover from. He was all smiles after the game, a welcome sight for his teammates that were somewhat worried about him.
“It’s been tough because everyone around me thought I was depressed,” Hamilton said. “Everybody was like, ‘Hey Rip, you ain’t talking, you ain’t doing nothing.’ And things like that. It was one of those things where you go home and you just sit in your room, you don’t turn the TV on and you don’t do nothing because it’s like, ‘When is this thing going to get better?’ Once you get past five games, it’s like, ‘Aw man. What’s going on?’ Then I’m at 10 games, then I’m at 15 games. It was hard. I’m happy that I got an opportunity to play tonight.”
A sprained ankle was something new to Hamilton, who said he never really had them prior to the major sprain he suffered against Memphis on Oct. 28 when he came down on the foot of the Grizzlies O.J. Mayo.
He knew the injury was bad right away, but didn’t know how bad until strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander broke the news that it was the worst sprain he had ever seen in his 18 years with the team.
“I knew it was bad because when I looked at my leg, my calf all the way down to my toes was black and blue,” Hamilton said. “Arnie would say, well he didn’t want to tell me at first, but he was like, ‘Yo this is the worst looking sprain that I’ve ever seen.’ It was tough. I just tried to stay positive. It’s hard to stay positive when you’re looking at your foot and it’s black and blue the whole time. I’m happy it’s better and hopefully I can continue to go on.”