PHILADELPHIA Despite his slender frame, throughout his 13-year NBA career, Bulls shooting guard Rip Hamilton has withstood the punishment of getting knocked around by much bigger men as he runs through a maze of screens, trying to get open for his patented mid-range jumper. One thing he cant shake, however, is a left-leg injury apologies for the hockey terminology, but thats how the veteran describes his ailment that has sidelined him for more games than hes suited up for in his short tenure as Derrick Roses backcourt mate.
Im just more looking at if I can go or not. I think thats the most important thing. I missed a whole lot of games earlier because of the injury. Right now, you just want to be on the floor. Thats just the bottom line. I just want to be out there, Hamilton explained prior to the Bulls morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, where theyll take on the 76ers Wednesday evening. Not even just that being cautious due to the NBAs condensed schedule, just being out there and being able to play. The last game I played, it was killing me. The whole second half, I felt like I was playing on one leg and then, the next day, its 20 times worse. Its one of those things where you want to be out there I know everybody says, Look at the big picture, look at the end but its tough because you want to be out there now, you want to play now and my bodys not allowing me to play right now.
Us me and the trainer have been talking and its different because it feels good at one point in time and as soon as I start playing, its like, Boom. Come here. What do you think youre doing? Stop it. And thats the most frustrating part of the whole thing.
Its my thigh. You can say my whole leg, my whole left leg, continued Hamilton, who originally suffered a strained left groin, which was exacerbated by a left-thigh injury, apparently now the more serious of the two. Its funny because as the games going on, its just adrenaline. Its a battle of wills, youre just playing and you dont realize it until that thing just says, Hold on. What are you doing? What do you think youre doing?
Its a tiny bit better than it felt after his last game in Miami. Its not worse than since the last game because once the next day comes, once your body comes down and your adrenaline comes down, its even worse than what it was playing.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is sympathetic to Hamiltons plight, but realizes the best course of action could be to sit the native of nearby Coatesville, Pa., until he can fully contribute for a sustained period of time, instead of being in the lineup for a game or two, then having to miss time again.
Thats the tough one. Hes doing all his rehab and what we want to avoid is the in and out. Hes missed more games than hes played, so thats a big concern. So, we want to make sure that hes completely healthy, he said. Rip, hes a terrific player and he plays both ends. Im concerned about him, with this thing becoming reoccurring, so I want to make sure this time that hes completely healthy. I think a guy like that, youve just got to be careful with, so thats what were going to do.
Hamilton is even more down about missing Wednesdays contest because family and friends were excited to see him play as a member of the Bulls after his time with the Pistons ended in disappointing fashion
Its fun, but its sad in the same sense because all my family came to see me play and to be hurt, its crazy, he said. Theyre all excited about me being in Chicago and not to get an opportunity to showcase that in front of them, its tough.
Still, Hamilton is pleased with how hes adjusted to playing in Thibodeaus system and blending with his teammates when hes been on the court, as it has allowed him to display the versatility thats been often overlooked during his career.
Oh, I love it. It fits me. Got a lot of great guys, got a lot of great talent on this team, he said. I always say, When you score so good in this league, thats all people look at, at your scoring. They dont look at anything else and my whole career, I really never got a whole lot of credit, but when I was there, the coaches knew what they had, so to get an opportunity to get to show what I do here is unbelievable.
Meanwhile, Thibodeau noted that another member of the starting lineup is making gradual progress in his recovery.
Luols still out, said the coach. Well see what he can do today, did more yesterday and thats game-time.