The Phoenix Suns ace was seeking advice from his childhood hero about wearing a disguise during the playoffs .
“ ‘ When you put it on, it ’ s not going to change the way you shoot, ’ ” Hamilton told The Undefeated about what he told Booker. “ ‘ It will be wyrd. But once you put it on, leave it alone. ’ They tend to want to take it off during a free throw, on the workbench or during a timeout.
“ ‘ Leave it on because you will be more concern about the mask off than on. You will be more confident with it on. You tend to clench up when you go to the basket, but with the mask on you are protected when you go to the basket and are poked in the eye or talk. You feel invincible. You play more confident with the mask. ’ ”
Wearing the disguise for the first time on Thursday night in Game 3 of the westerly Conference finals at Staples Center, Booker was more mortal than invincible. Booker missed 16 of 21 shots from the field and six of seven 3-point attempts. The 6-foot-5 guard scored a playoff season-low 15 points and the Suns lost 106-92 .
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Was the mask to blame ?
“ It ’ s fine, honestly, ” Booker, 24, said. “ I don ’ thyroxine truly see [ the mask ]. It doesn ’ thymine affect me. ”
“ It ’ s hard to say, ” added Suns head passenger car Monty Williams. “ He won ’ t make excuses about [ the mask ]. ”
Booker, who lived chiefly in Michigan until moving with his father, Melvin, to Moss Point, Mississippi, as a sophomore in high school, grew up a huge Pistons fan. His favorite musician was Hamilton, who averaged 18.4 points over nine seasons with the Pistons from 2002 to 2011 and was contribution of the 2004 championship team. Hamilton was known for his midrange sweater .
Hamilton said he first met Booker at Ocean Beach in Toms River, New Jersey, when the latter was about 17 years previous. While Booker would end up playing in the 2014 McDonald ’ s All american Game and was a five-star recruit, Hamilton had never heard of him .
“ He told me back then as a young pull the leg of that I was his darling musician and that he was trying to go to the NBA, ” Hamilton said. “ It was very random that I got introduced to him at Ocean Beach. I had played in Detroit and he was a Michigan kid. I didn ’ triiodothyronine know how big of a musician he was at the time. ”
After Booker went to the University of Kentucky, he reconnected with Hamilton. In 2019, during halftime of an exhibition game in Mexico, Hamilton swapped one of his vintage Pistons jerseys with Booker for a Suns jersey. Booker has enjoyed having a relationship with his basketball paragon .
“ I ’ ve been preaching for a long time that he is my favorite player of all clock, ” Booker said. “ I ’ ve had short conversations [ with him ] in the past. ”
Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons became known for wearing a protective mask after his nose was broken three times. Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images
Hamilton was known for wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose three times. The three-time NBA All-Star besides continued to wear the mask post-injury and it became his signature look. He said he was once upset at the NBA because they allowed LeBron James to wear a black protective mask .
“ They wouldn ’ metric ton allow me to wear an all-black mask, but they let LeBron wear one, ” said Hamilton, who is starting his own protective mask brand .
Booker ’ s telephone call to Hamilton was chiefly about the mask. But Booker besides made a period to get some basketball wisdom from Rip vitamin a well .
“ He told me he stuck with it because putting on his face dissemble put him in character. He felt comfortable getting in the paint with excess protection. An extra layer. He said, ‘ Don ’ thyroxine worry about it. Don ’ t take it off when you shoot free throws. ’ Don ’ t let it be a distraction to you. ’ …
“ I thought this was the arrant time to talk to him some more and get some advice. He chopped it up with me for more than a moment and gave me some great feedback, and the great mentality to go with out there. ”
Hamilton said he used anesthesia to aid getting his nozzle repaired by doctors on three occasions, but said Booker proved to be tougher. Booker took eight shots to numb his intrude, which was broken in three places, before getting on a plane to Los Angeles on Wednesday for Game 3. Booker said the worst part of the break nose was getting it set back into seat .
“ There is a procedure that they say they put you under for, ” Booker said. “ But we had to fly out a couple hours late, so we just numbed it up all over the place. It took eight shots to numb it up. They go in there and they break it back in position. It was my first time experiencing that. But they said [ Suns ahead ] Cam Johnson went through it, so I know I could. ”
Moving ahead in the series, the Suns hope Booker will be able to adjust to wearing the mask. They will besides have to figure Beverley out .
After Booker scored 40 points in Game 1 against the Clippers, Beverley has held the two-time All-Star to 10-of-37 tear from the battlefield and 2-of-10 from 3-point range the past two games. Booker said Beverley ’ s success has come from being “ ultra-aggressive. ”
“ He is denying and limiting touches, ” Booker said. “ He has one objective there and we understand that. other things should open up. We should see what is open and see what we can get. ”
Hamilton is confident that Booker will figure it out. He said there is a bunch about Booker ’ s game that reminds him of Bryant. Hamilton and Bryant played on the same AAU team, played against each other in senior high school school in the Philadelphia area and played in the McDonald ’ s All american english Game together ahead battling on the NBA phase.
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“ He ’ randomness Kobe-like, ” Hamilton said. “ He ’ s a student of the game. He wants to be good. ”
Marc J. Spears is the aged NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate been able to in years and his knees still hurt .