One is a champion on all three levels: high school, college and the pros. The other played at North Carolina and has spent his entire NBA career second and third in command.
Richard Hamilton has been successful his entire basketball career and a model NBA citizen. John Kuester is a career assistant, who has managed one NBA championship, this is fact not opinion. His lone NBA championship came at the feet of, yup, Richard Hamilton.
In today’s media it has become standard to be critical of players. It has become standard behavior to question every move a player makes. It is accepted to never see things from a player’s point of view, mainly because most of the media participants come from a world entirely different from the world of the athletes that they cover.
This brings us to the Hamilton versus Kuester fiasco. Here is the tale of the tape: Kuester has a head coaching record of 49–94. He has never been a head coach on the professional level thus has not proven that he can lead a team from the depths of hell, also known as the lottery.
Hamilton, who has been coached by Jim Calhoun, Doug Collins and Larry Brown, should know about coaches. Rip also brought Calhoun and Brown their first championships. Yet somehow, some way, Coach Kuester is being treated like he studied under Fog Allen and should not be questioned or chastised in the least.
He has struggled to give the Pistons an identity. He has struggled to develop any of the young players on the Pistons roster. You would be hard pressed to say one player has gotten better under Coach Kuester’s tutelage. Yet Hamilton has been blasted for organizing or taking part in a boycott of practice. The boycott was used to stress how unhappy he is with the current state of affairs and the current Pistons head coach.
This is the big boy’s table folks, and this is grown man’s B.I. This is the NBA and there is no room for the weak and fragile. Hamilton is not only justified in his actions but I commend him for them. This is a player who holds himself to a higher standard, and the last few years have been unacceptable to him. Rip could have bounced on the Motor City or he could have played the injury role and just maintained for the rest of the year. Instead he chose to not quit.
He wants to not only play but he also wants to win. His actions were extreme, but quiet and humble sometimes do not get the job done. Sometimes loud and boisterous will get people’s attention and may even get you what you want. With a reputation as clean as Hamilton’s, the focus should have been on the cause not the effect.
So before we defend the coach and condemn the player, let us look at the totality of the situation. Before we put Hamilton in the gumbo of spoiled athletes who “don’t get it,” think about this: Who really deserves our benefit of the doubt? The person who has produced time and time again, versus someone who has never produced?
A player who has played with Michael Jordan and been coached by Larry Brown and Doug Collins should know a thing or two about coaching and playing at a championship level. A player whose career has seen very little negativity and no controversy should be allowed to adamantly display his frustrations without being tarred and feathered. It does not take long to realize a cab driver does not know where he is going and it does not take long to know a head coach from an assistant coach.
A boycott may not have been the way to go, but no one can deny a change is necessary. All Rip did was point out the elephant in the room, loudly and obnoxiously. There is a world where tact and discretion are not common, a world where you go hard at all times and where the strong have to lead the weak. Most of the media pundits either do not know about this world or have chosen to ignore this world, except when they can look down on it or when the individuals in this world can benefit them in some way. The world of “Go Getters” is where Hamilton is from.
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