Richard Hamilton Says He Was ‘Low-Key Scared’ of Facing Kobe Bryant

In Wednesday’s Hot Clicks: Rip Hamilton admits playing against Kobe was scary, a former NFL receiver explains his attitude toward money and more.
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Kobe would be pleased to hear this 

To the average observer, Kobe Bryant always looked like the most intimidating player on the court—and it turns out his opponents felt the same way. 

Former Pistons All-Star Richard Hamilton said Tuesday that he was “low-key scared” when he got on the floor with Kobe. Hamilton, who works for CBS Sports these days, spoke about the network’s ranking of the top 15 players in NBA history and took issue with Bryant coming in at No. 10. 

Yes, we’re at the point in the sports shutdown where outlets are posting random rankings of NBA players and using them to start arguments, but Hamilton’s comments about Kobe are still interesting. 

First of all, whoever voted and put Kobe [at 10] just flat out disrespected him. I feel like Kobe Bryant is the closest guy to Michael Jordan that we have ever seen. When you look at his stats and see, yes, he was an 18-time All-Star, he was a 15-time All-NBA player, tied with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but when Magic Johnson comes out and says Kobe Bryant is the best Laker of all time, that means better than him, and better than the guy Magic played with, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

I just think his body of work -- you gotta understand, a lot of times when you look at his numbers, he's still top-five all time in scoring, but he played with another great player in Shaquille O'Neal. If he didn't play with Shaquille O'Neal, he probably would be No. 1 on the scoring list.

He's probably the only guy -- and Raja [Bell] can probably attest to this -- the only guy that I competed against in my 14-year NBA career that when I would come into the game I was low-key scared. The reason why is, Kobe was the type of player that was gonna try to kill you when the first minute of play started, all the way until the final buzzer went off.

You couldn't let him get 10-12 points in the first quarter, because he was gonna try to give you 50. He scored 81 points in a game, he was probably one of the most complete players that we have ever seen in our game of basketball.

The numbers actually show that Hamilton didn’t feel comfortable playing against Kobe. In 20 regular season games against Kobe, Rip averaged just 12.8 points per game, compared to a career average of 17.1. In a game in November 2003, Hamilton, who was Detroit’s leading scorer that season, managed just six points in 27 minutes on the floor. 

Of course, Hamilton’s Pistons would get the best of Kobe’s Lakers when it mattered most, winning the 2004 NBA Finals in five games. Hamilton averaged 21.4 points per game that series, including a 31-point explosion in an 88–68 Game 3 blowout, but Kobe still made life difficult for him. Check out this highlight reel of Kobe’s 33-point Game 2 performance. Tayshaun Prince got plenty of abuse, too, but Kobe also goaded Hamilton into a technical foul with some pesky defense. 

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