NBA

Why Rip Hamilton Was as Scared of Kobe Bryant as Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan might be the most feared NBA player of all time, but former Pistons All-Star Rip Hamilton said he was scared of only one player during his career — Kobe Bryant. Hamilton thinks Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan the NBA has ever seen.

Rip Hamilton is a 3-time All-Star and NBA champion

Richard “Rip” Hamilton was more than just a complimentary piece on the Detroit Pistons. He scored 15,708 points in his NBA career and averaged double digits in 12 of his 14 years in the league. Hamilton averaged over 18 points in eight seasons.

The guard famous for his iconic face mask actually made three All-Star teams and won an NBA championship in 2003-04. During that championship season, Hamilton averaged 17.6 points and 4.0 assists per game for the Pistons. He even led Detroit in points per game during the NBA Finals with 21.4.

And who did Hamilton beat in that Finals series? None other than Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers. Bryant guarded Hamilton frequently during the 2004 matchup, but Hamilton got the best of him in the end.

Even so, Hamilton recently said Bryant was the most intimidating player to go against during his career.

Hamilton thinks Bryant is right behind Jordan on his all-time list

CBS Sports recently published its list of the top 15 NBA players of all time. Kobe Bryant was ranked 10th on the list, but Hamilton disagreed with the placement.

“First of all, whoever voted and put Kobe [at 10] just flat out disrespected him,” Hamilton told CBS Sports. “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.”

Hamilton also said Bryant would be the NBA scoring champ if he never played with another all-time great.

“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.”

Rip Hamilton said Kobe Bryant was the only player who scared him

Hamilton didn’t just respect Bryant as one of the fiercest competitors in NBA history, but he actually feared the Lakers legend. He admitted Bryant was the only NBA player who ever scared him on the court.

“He’s probably the only guy — and Raja 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,” Hamilton said. “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.” 

That’s an especially damning statement considering Hamilton played with Michael Jordan. Many consider Jordan the most feared player in NBA history, but Hamilton gives Bryant the nod in that category.