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He Keeps Going and Going ...

June 05, 2004|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — You'll notice him in the NBA Finals because of the hideous plastic mask he has worn since suffering a broken nose in March. Or, if he continues scoring as he has over the last six weeks, because of the way he's able to make clutch shots for the Detroit Pistons.

But what truly sets Richard Hamilton apart is his endurance.

"It's phenomenal," said Arnie Kander, the Pistons' strength and conditioning coach. "I've been doing this for 12 years [with the Pistons] and I'd put him up there with [Dennis] Rodman, Grant Hill. I literally do not believe he needs a break in a game. Timeouts are probably enough, just a breath.

"He's so mechanically efficient when you watch this guy run. He looks like Kip Keino; he looks like a miler. ... He's just a mechanical marvel."

Hamilton was a miler in high school, though he never practiced. He said he showed up for meets and ran, and never lost.

He takes pride in wearing out defenders, running them ragged.

"I think that's the key to me, to my success, trying to be in better shape than anybody else," said the Piston scoring leader.

Kander said Hamilton has benefited from "wonderful genetics," a strong work ethic and a family that preached the importance of eating right. "His father is huge into nutrition."


Calling Karl Malone the "X-factor" in the series, Piston Coach Larry Brown said the Laker forward has not been given his due.

"I don't think people are saying enough for what Karl has done," he said. "He got through playing [Tim] Duncan and [Kevin] Garnett. He's very unselfish. Here's a guy who's scored 30,000 points and he's one of the leaders in assists on the Lakers. He's just done everything."


Hack-a-Shaq is not endorsed by Brown, but Shaquille O'Neal will get fouled. The same goes for any other Laker alone under the basket with the ball.

"I've never done that," Brown said of the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. "But if a guy's going to shoot a layup and he's a 50% free-throw shooter, maybe you foul him before he shoots. That's not bad basketball. That's not Hack-a-Shaq. That's hack anybody who's not a good free-throw shooter.

"You want to take playoff fouls, and if it means giving up a layup or putting a guy on the line, that's basketball. That isn't Hack-a-Shaq."


Though she seemed to be wavering earlier in the week, Cheryl Ford of the Detroit Shock made it clear to the Detroit News: She's rooting for the Lakers.

Malone is her father.

"I'm real excited for him," said Ford, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound power forward who jumped into her father's arms after the Shock defeated the Sparks to win the WNBA title last summer. "I love my Pistons. They're my boys. But I love my dad and blood's thicker than water. I want my dad to get his ring. He deserves it."

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