Right after “Take advantage of any opportunity for free food,” one of the golden rules of this whole journalism thing is that you have to let both sides tell their story.
Over the last year, a lot of people have been telling Rip Hamilton‘s story for him. Concerning his reaction to the Chauncey Billups trade, his role in the collapse of the Allen Iverson era in Detroit, or his role in the firing of Michael Curry, the generally accepted chain of events goes like this: Rip was hurt by and overly sensitive about CB getting moved, so in turn he never accepted Iverson (and the rest of the Pistons’ followed his cue). And when A.I.’s arrival led to Rip being asked to come off the bench, he led a veteran’s revolt against Curry and got the coach dumped after one season.
Meanwhile, Rip rarely talked. But in a recent interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he finally told his side:
“M.C. lied to us a million times,” Hamilton said of Curry. “He sat me and A.I. down one time and was like, ‘I’m going to lean on both of you the whole year, just don’t go to the media. Say you’ll do whatever for the team and blah blah blah.’ This was a week before he brought me off the bench. He lied. So I feel for what Allen said.”
He added: “I think the person that we had didn’t know how to take advantage of (our roster). Instead of taking advantage of it, he killed it.”
Hamilton also discredited the idea that the Pistons, although upset about losing Chauncey Billups in the trade with the Nuggets, were unwilling to accept Iverson as a teammate. Asked if he ever had any problems with Iverson, Hamilton said: “Oh, no, no, no. We loved him, he loved us. We were all friends, we were all brothers. Like I said, certain people make it complicated when it shouldn’t be complicated.”
While I still lean toward the original idea that Rip was a key player in the Iverson/Curry mess, everything he says is believable. In other interviews, Iverson also identified Curry (and the Pistons front office) as the main culprit in the failed experiment without throwing his former teammates under the bus.
Tonight A.I.’s new team, the Grizzlies, and the Pistons open their seasons facing each other. Iverson has yet to play in a Memphis uniform due to a hamstring injury, but over the weekend said he think he can go tonight; knowing A.I., even if he’s in pain, he really wants to show Detroit what they gave up on.
Whether Iverson plays or not, the events of last season will be a storyline talked about throughout the game. After that, maybe everyone will move on and eventually forget about it. But probably not. Either way, Rip’s focus will shift to simply keeping his starting job and his shots away from Ben Gordon.