The story of the Bulls 2011-12 season was without question, injuries; from Luol Deng’s wrist, to Derrick Rose’s knee and Joakim Noah’s ankle. It seemed that more often than not, key members of the Bulls were forced to watch the action from the sidelines wearing custom suits, instead of competing on the court in their uniforms.
But no player missed more games last season than Rip Hamilton. Hamilton was brought in last summer as a free-agent after spending nine seasons in Detroit with the Pistons. He was thought to be the answer to the Bulls woes at the shooting guard position, and paired in the backcourt with D. Rose, the duo was supposed to propel the Bulls past Miami and into the NBA Finals.
But Hamilton appeared in just 28 of the Bulls 66 regular season games, and of the Bulls 72 total outings last season (playoffs included), Hamilton played in less than half of them.
"Last season was very tough mentally," Hamilton told NBC Chicago on Monday. "Not being able to play – I lost my grandma last year, too – and not having the game to help put your mind somewhere else, it was difficult for me."
To help him prepare for a full 82-game season, the 34-year-old hired a physical therapist to not only aid in his body’s healing process, but to give him a leg-up on the younger and quicker guards at his position.
"I used a [physical] therapist to help me with my hips and my legs and to just try and stay limber," said Hamilton. "I did a lot of sand workouts and stuff like that, so I kind of remixed my regimen. I still run and do all of that stuff, but I’m just trying to get an advantage and that’s the biggest thing for me."
Without Derrick Rose to lead them, Hamilton still feels confident in the other players on the Bulls roster and thinks the team will be competitive until Rose comes back.
"We can be good. It’s no replacing [Derrick], I think everybody knows that. Our job is to maintain and hold down the fort until he comes back. And I think that we can."