Former NBA Champion Reveals How He Was Motivated to Beat Kobe Bryant in the 2004 NBA Finals

Published 01/15/2021, 7:55 AM EST
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 6: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during the basketball game against Golden State Warriors at Staples Center March 6, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)


The Los Angeles Lakers had four future Hall of Famers on their 2004 NBA Finals team. But that was not enough to beat the Detroit Pistons. Kobe Bryant struggled the most as they failed to win their fourth ring in five years.

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Three-time All-Star Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton was part of that iconic Pistons team. During a recent interview, he spoke about how he couldn’t let Kobe beat him in the Finals.

“I couldn’t allow Kobe to beat me again,” he said. “He beat for the state championship in Pennsylvania. It was almost got to a point where I was walking to the locker room, looking at Ben. Rasheed, Chauncey, and I’m like, ‘Bro I can’t let this dude beat me again’.”

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Hamilton then mentioned how he won the NCAA title, but then Kobe again won NBA titles before him. So there was no way he was letting him win this ring.

Hamilton says they never felt Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were better

Later Hamilton spoke about how the team was always confident about their ability. They never felt that the Lakers were better than them.

He said, “When you say who had the best two players, absolutely the Lakers, I mean they had Shaq and Kobe, arguably two guys who in my opinion should be in the top five greatest players of all-time. But for that moment, we were feeling good.

“We had this me against the world attitude, we were locked in, and willing to do anything for each other. We never went into that series thinking that the Lakers were the better team.”

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This confidence was evident in their performance. Although Shaquille O’Neal had a great series, the Pistons successfully locked down Kobe. He shot just 38% from the field and a miserable 18% from three. The rest of the team struggled too, which is why the Pistons dusted off the Lakers in just five games.

So after years, Hamilton finally had his victory over Bryant. They had a great rivalry in the early 2000s, as Hamilton was always a tough opponent due to his two-way prowess. They had a lot of great battles, and it was always a good fight between them.

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DIVE DEEPER

Former Lakers Teammate Gives a Glimpse of Kobe Bryant’s Thought Process Back in the Day

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Aaron Mathew

1664 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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