The moment Rip Hamilton got the call from Ray Allen, he was hooked.
“Hey Rip, man, you’ve got to make this trip,” Hamilton recalls Allen, who had just returned from a tour overseas with the United Service Organizations, saying back in 2016. “You have to go experience this. The troops will really appreciate it.”
In late April, Hamilton did just that. He attended a week-long tour of military bases across the world as part of a trip with the USO — furthering the NBA’s longstanding relationship with the military and its members.
“We have the best league in the world,” Hamilton, a three-time All-Star who won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and officially retired in 2015, told USA TODAY Sports. ” … When you see opportunities like this to go over there — not just me, but from Ray Allen and Caron Butler and everybody else — to go over there and support our guys, support our troops, and be a part of their daily lifestyle.
“Just let them know, ‘We appreciate you. We support you. We have your back through thick and thin.’ I think that’s the biggest thing and that’s the greatest thing that we have, the constant communication that we have with the leaders of our league.”
In addition to Hamilton’s trip, the league’s involvement with the military during the 2017-18 season through Hoops for Troops — a year-round program that honors service men, women, and their families — has included:
A photo gallery from Hamilton’s trip is below: