Omi

As a former Detroit Pistons player — leader of the Detroit Bad Boys to be exact— and current color analyst for the Pistons radio broadcast network, what are your thoughts on Rip Hamilton coming to play for the Chicago Bulls? You watched him play on the Pistons for almost a decade, are you going to miss him?

You always miss the players that achieve a lot of goals and the ultimate goal was to win a championship. You miss those players because they left their hearts and souls on the court to try and win a championship. I think Rip still has a lot more basketball in him. This is another opportunity for him to build Chicago and hopefully — they think he can — bring a championship.

Did you get a chance to talk to him before he left?

No because of the lockout this year you couldn’t really speak with the players and talk to them but I know when I see him it will be fun. It won’t be nice to see him in another uniform but it will be nice to see him.

Do you have a favorite player in the NBA right now?

I don’t necessarily have a particular player. I’m partial to Ben Wallace just because he was coming from the same [NCAA Division II] conference that I came from in college, the CIAA. I favor underdogs.

What about Derrick Rose?

He’s an outstanding player. He’s a special player that catapulted the Bulls when they got the first pick in the draft. Being from Chicago, that only enriches himself there long-term because he’s the face and they are betting on him to bring them a championship.

Did you enjoy battling the Chicago Bulls back in the Michael Jordan era?

You figure that you’ve got two teams in the Midwest and you are battling cities, Detroit versus Chicago. Everybody always says Detroit is better than Chicago and Chicago is better than Detroit and you love that rivalry, the black and blue division for basketball. It’s a rivalry that is going to be around for years to come. Not only playing against Michael and the Chicago Bulls, it’s just fun to play against any team in Chicago that Detroit faces. It’s always a good game.

Was it more of a rivalry back then or is it still as intense today between players?

It’s not as intense because the teams are not as good as they were back in those days between the late ’80s and early ’90s trying to win championships. Right now Chicago isn’t necessarily in the re-building phase, they had the best record last year and what they want to do is get back to the best record and go to the finals this year. They are taking baby steps. Detroit right now is in a transition phase but it’s still competitive because it’s Detroit versus Chicago.

You played with Charles Barkley for a few years on the Philadelphia 76ers. Any good Charles stories from when you two played together?

It was just a blast to play with one of my best friends. He ended up becoming one of my best of friends when I played with him. He’s a competitor and a guy who lays it on the line everyday and he also puts it on television. He really hasn’t changed much, other than him no longer playing the game but he still sits on that television and has a good time on there. There aren’t really any funny stories because all of them just run to together, it’s all too funny. 

Do you guys still keep in touch?

Yes we do. We’re still best friends.

You were once dubbed the baddest of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys. Do you still live up to that reputation?

The persona was on the court but yet it follows you and as far as the Bad Boys go it was a team oriented thing, it’s just that I got labeled to be the baddest of them. It’s something that you take with a grain of salt and keep going because you don’t know the full person until you meet them and you actually get to know them. You can’t judge a book by its cover until you read the book.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Probably my mother, she is no longer with us. My mother was so knowledgeable. She taught me how to be an adult and how to be a responsible citizen. I loved her wisdom. I looked up to a lot of people but my mother was my treasure. She was a lady who raised four kids from welfare to be successful and always kept me humble so if I had to pick and choose a person it would be Alice Mahorn.

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Photography by Dan Lippitt

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Omi