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Saturday, December 24, 2011
Rip Hamilton backs John Kuester

By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com

LOS ANGELES -- When Chicago Bulls guard Richard Hamilton looks over towards the Los Angeles Lakers sideline Sunday afternoon, Kobe Bryant isn't the only familiar face he's going to see. Hamilton will also he his former head coach in Detroit and current Lakers assistant, John Kuester. Despite the fact that Kuester and Hamilton reportedly had several blowups during their time with the Pistons, Hamilton doesn't think it will be weird seeing his old coach.

"Not really," Hamilton told ESPNChicago.com before the Bulls' practice Saturday morning at UCLA. "Because Q was with me once already when we won the championship with Larry Brown and then last year in Detroit. And now he's somewhere else. That's always kind of awkward at first, but that's just the league, man. You'll be in one city one minute and be in another city another."

Hamilton described his relationship with Kuester, who was fired in Detroit after last season, this way: "We were cool. Me and Kuester, I think the media made a big deal about it. I don't think he was the problem at all. But he was the person in the forefront that people made it seem like he was the problem, but he wasn't the problem."

The only thing Hamilton has on his mind at the moment is finding a way to pick up a win in his first Bulls' game. He is looking forward to facing his old summer league teammate in Bryant. The pair have come a long way from their time facing off against each other in high school.

"We always talk about it," Hamilton said. "We've talked about it since I first got into the league. Since I won a national championship in college and he won his first championship in the NBA. It was a thing that we always talked about man. Coming from a small town where we come from and get an opportunity to play on the world's biggest stage, especially on Christmas Day, is unbelievable."

Hamilton believes that if the Bulls stay healthy this season, they will have a good shot to win the NBA championship.

"I think we definitely got a great chance," he said. "I think with the guys that we have on this team, special things can happen. Health is always a concern, especially a long, quick season. But the good thing about it (is) we've got a lot of good players on this team. A lot of guys that can come off the bench and help, and I think that will be key."

As for whether he is ready to roll after just over a week of practice, the veteran shooter just laughed when the question came up.

"I ain't got no choice," he said. "I ain't got no choice. The season starts. Got to come out and hopefully try to get a win."

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com.