Michigan Sports Hall of Famer ‘Rip’ Hamilton ready for Pistons’ rise to respectability

Detroit News

Detroit − Richard “Rip” Hamilton and his Pistons teammates would come downtown occasionally to practice at Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall. Hamilton wishes he could do what today’s Pistons do: Play in downtown Detroit.

“Oh, my goodness, I would love to,” Hamilton said with a big grin. “Me and Chauncey (Billups) used to talk about that all the time. … We were always like, ‘Hey, why don’t we get a year, two years to play downtown to, you know, really feel the city. We talked about wishing we got an opportunity to play downtown.

“I love the redevelopment of the city, because you walk around here, the energy here is something we didn’t get to experience, especially when I played.

“I love all the Detroit businesses downtown, I love all the teams downtown. We’re here to represent the city of Detroit, and there’s no more special place to be playing.”

Hamilton played his home games at the now-gone Palace of Auburn Hills. He was back downtown Thursday night, not too far from the Pistons’ new home, Little Caesars Arena. Hamilton was walking the red carpet at MotorCity Casino Hotel, as part of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

Hamilton was inducted along with Red Wings great Henrik Zetterberg, as well as Ryan Miller (Michigan State hockey), Sierra Romero (Michigan softball), Lorenzo White (MSU football), LaMarr Woodley (UM football), Rick Comley (Michigan State hockey coach) and St. Clair resident Mike “Doc” Emrick (NHL broadcasting). The late Mrs. Hockey, Colleen Howe, was named the winner of the Hall of Fame’s annual contributor award, and Dawn Riley, a legendary sailor, was named the winner of the Hall’s legend award.

The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame dates to 1955, and Thursday’s ceremony was sold out.

Hamilton was among the headliners, as a star player on the “Goin’ to Work” Pistons that won the team’s most recent championship, in 2004. (Billups was inducted into the MSHOF with last year’s class.) Like most fans, he’s eager to see the Pistons’ next championship, under the guidance of GM Troy Weaver and new head coach Monty Williams. He just won’t predict when that will come.

“It’s gonna take time, you know, I don’t want to rush it, but I just feel as thought we got a great core of young guys,” said Hamilton, 45, now an analyst for CBS Sports. “And we’re starting to build around young guys. And the young guys are eventually gonna become veterans.

 

“It takes time. You gotta go through your bumps and bruises. You gotta take your hits. You gotta get used to the NBA lifestyle. You gotta get adjusted to the speed.

“So I think it’s gonna take time, but I’m ready for the ride.”

Zetterberg enjoys retirement

Zetterberg has been enjoying retirement back home in Sweden since hanging it up in 2018.

But he’s about to spend a lot more time back in Metro Detroit.

Zetterberg, 42, is part of a new business venture that is bringing one of Europe’s fastest-growing sports to the area. That sport is padel, and Zetterberg and Co. are opening a 40,000-square-foot facility on Mound Road, between 14 Mile and 15 Mile, in Sterling Heights.

The facility is scheduled to open in November. Zetterberg has been out there the last few days.

“So we have some work to do,” he said with a smile. “It’s getting closer.”

So what is padel, which sometimes called padel tennis?

“I will say it’s a hybrid between pickleball, squash, tennis, racquetball. You play basically in a cage, glassed in,” Zetterberg said of the sport that got its start in South America decades ago.

“It’s been the fastest-growing sport in Europe the last five years. It’s slowly starting to get over here now.”

And just when we were finally starting to get obsessed with pickleball …

“Hey, if you like pickleball, this is the one,” Zetterberg said. “By the way, I like it better.”

Miller praises MSU’s Nightingale

If there’s a family that screams Michigan State, it’s the Miller family − with Ryan, brother Drew and cousins Kelly, Kevin and Kip all attending MSU, and all going on to play in the NHL.

With his parents alums of MSU, Ryan Miller never even considered going anywhere else. He said his lullaby mix as a kid included the Michigan State fight song.

He went on to star for the Spartans as a goalie, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2001, leading Michigan State to the Frozen Four the same year. The Spartans have made on Frozen Four since, when they won the national championship in 2007. The program has since fallen on hard times.

Last year, Adam Nightingale, an MSU alum, made his debut as head coach, to rave reviews.

Those reviews included one from Ryan.

“Adam and I have a great history together, from junior hockey on,” Miller, 43, who played 20 years in the NHL after his MSU career, said of Nightingale, also 43. “He’s gone about things the right way. He wanted to become a coach, he put his time in at many different levels, and he really learned from the best.

“He’s ready to go, so it’s time for him, and we’re excited to see what he can do.

“He’s very comfortable in this moment.”

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter/X: @tonypaul1984

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