By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Dribble. Dribble. Dribble. Pull-up from the elbow. Swish.
Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton has been doing this for years.
But these days, the swish doesn't come about nearly as often.
And his playing time?
The three-time all-star has not played (coaches decision) in Detroit's last four games, a trend that's expected to continue tonight against the Boston Celtics.
Hamilton's absence is especially noticeable in the TD Garden, a place where his battles with fellow UConn alum Ray Allen have been legendary.
Their battles became so intense, both had to shoot down rumors that they didn't like each other.
"He's somewhat come along in my shadow," Allen told CSNNE.com. "It's almost like the big-brother, little-brother you want to beat big brother all the time."
Said Hamilton: "Ray was a big part of me going to UConn. You look at UConn now, it has this reputation of producing NBA-ready 2s (shooting guards). It really started with Ray."
It is those battles with Allen and other upper-echelon NBA players, that have made Hamilton's demotion so difficult to swallow.
"The battles, like playing against Ray, it's always fun," Hamilton told CSNNE.com. "It's always great; it's a challenge."
These days, Hamilton challenges himself during and after practice, continuing to work on his game while the Pistons continue to search for him a new home.
It appeared the search was nearly over, with Hamilton a likely participant in the proposed blockbuster deal that will send Denver's Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets.
However, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov told reporters in New Jersey on Wednesday that the he was no longer interested in trading for Anthony.
Really, I am not happy with the way the deal has gone until now, Prokhorov told reporters prior to the Nets hosting the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players. And I believe it has cost us several games games I believe our team for sure could win in this period of time. Prokhorov added, So I think the management of the team did a great job. But there comes a time when the prize is simply too expensive. I am instructing our team to walk away from the deal, and the meeting that was supposed to be held by our management in Denver with Carmelo is hereby canceled.Even with the deal involving Hamilton essentially killed, the Pistons still elected to not play Hamilton (coaches decision) in the first half on Wednesday.
"It's a crazy situation," Hamilton said. "You hear so many speculation things like that. I've never been a part of this my whole career, let alone have to go through something here in Detroit."
Hamilton is in his ninth season with the Pistons, 12th in the league.
He has been an integral part of Detroit being among the most successful NBA teams during the early 2000s, which included a 2004 NBA title.
But that Hamilton and that unprecedented success he was a part of, are both things of the past now.
Hamilton knows his days as a Piston are numbered.
He's cool with that.
At this point, the only thing he wants is closure to what has been the most trying time of his career.
"I just want an opportunity to play," he said. "You've been hearing rumors for the last two-plus years (about me being traded). So it's more evident now than ever. My job is to stay ready, keep myself in shape."
He does this by undergoing a rigorous post-practice regimen with Ben Wallace, who was also with the Pistons during their glory days of the early 2000s.
"It's fun, playing with a guy that I've been through wars with," Hamilton said. "I still get a joy out of it. But I'd rather be out there playing than doing this."
Still, there's no denying the success Detroit has experienced since the Pistons opted to take Hamilton out of the rotation.
In the four games with Hamilton not playing, Detroit is 3-1.
While it may appear that Hamilton's game can't help the Pistons, the soon-to-be 33-year-old still has enough skills to help someone win.
And that, maybe more than anything else, is what really bothers him about all this.
"It's not like I can't play at all anymore," Hamilton said. "But you know that, it's out of my hands. What's going on right now is not basketball. It's more than that. So it's like when you go against teams like this you want to be in the war with your brothers. But it is what it is."