Rip Hamilton may be most known for his days with the Detroit Pistons, but he started his career with the Washington Wizards in 1999. Coming out of UConn as the 7th pick, Hamilton was a big prospect for the Wizards, and with Michael Jordan joining the franchise to finish his career, Rip was presented with the opportunity to learn from the best in his position. It was hugely helpful, but it wasn't always easy for Rip.
Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball player of all time for the majority of the NBA world, but that doesn't mean it was easy to play with him. Playing on MJ's team brought expectations and championship aspirations, as fans and Jordan demanded the ultimate best from you. And they were not shy about letting you know if you don' perform.
We saw that in all its light during "The Last Dance" documentary, but things didn't change much when Jordan returned for the second time in a Wizards uniform. From playing to making GM decisions, Jordan held all the ropes in Washington. And it wasn't easy for the young guys.
The pressure ate the #1 pick, Kwame Brown, but Rip Hamilton, who was already in his third year, toughened up and learned from MJ. We heard the stories about Jordan sharing the little secrets of the game and going toe to toe in halfcourt shots, but a few years ago, Rip shared how Michael hilariously burned him one day:
"Me and a couple of the young guys would come up to him and say, 'Hey, Mike. What do you think about putting us in the Brand Jordan collection?' He would look at me and say, 'Hey, Rip, my sneakers are for All-Stars.'"
Rip Hamilton, ESPN The Jump
That's some classic stuff from Michael, letting the youngsters know they are not even close to his level. But Hamilton seemed to thrive off that, as he got traded after one season with Jordan. He would end up in the perfect position with the Pistons, making three All-Star teams and winning the 2004 championship while playing a huge role for that Detroit team.
Rip was dominating in the mid-range like no other player at that time, showing he was implementing what he managed to learn from MJ in that one year. Amidst all the yelling and mocking, Rip learned a lot from the greatest and achieved an admirable career.