Grant Hill was the best player in the NBA. That was a long time ago. For his first six seasons with the Detroit Pistons, Hill was be compared to the great Michael Jordan. He scored over 1000 points in all six of his seasons in Detroit, even the lockout shortened 1999 season. In 2000, he averaged nearly 26 points per game.
He and the Orlando Magic worked a sign-and-trade deal worth mega millions. The Magic made the deal despite the fact that Hill had an ankle that was bothering him. It turned out to be a colossal failure on Orlando’s part and the franchise never has really recovered.
Hill played only 47 games over the next three seasons after repeated surgeries and setbacks on both feet. Magic fans, still stung by the departure of Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers and also reeling from Tim Duncan spurning them to remain with the San Antonio Spurs, began taking out their frustrations on Hill. To this day, he still gets booed in Orlando.
But he was injured. It’s not like those broken ankles were self-inflicted. Those injuries cost Hill a lot. Sure they cost the team dearly, but Hill was on his way to a Hall of Fame career. After averaging nearly 20 points for the Magic in 67 games in 2005, he spent 2006 injured again. He played in only 21 games that season.
In his last season with the Magic in 2007, he played in 65 games, but his role had diminished. He averaged 14 points per game over the 65 games he played. It would be his last in Orlando.
He wound with the Phoenix Suns where he became a valuable player, starting for them nearly every game for the next four seasons. He averaged in double figures all four years, but only broke 1000 points one time. He was no longer the next Michael Jordan.
He played one very nondescript season this past year with the Clippers. He spent the vast majority of it on the bench in street clothes and in the 29 games he played, he scored only 93 points. If he never plays another game, a distinct possibility, he will be remembered as a “what if” kind of player. “What if he’s stayed healthy?” will be the questioned first asked whenever Hill’s name comes up.
But here are his career numbers:
Those might be Hall of Fame type numbers. Will Hill get into the Hall someday? Yes he will. One thing that will help his cause is that the basketball Hall is not just for the NBA. The Basketball Hall of Fame covers college basketball, pro basketball, even foreign and women’s basketball. Hill’s college career was among the greatest of all time. So he will likely get in based on that.
Hill will also always be remembered every March for being the one who threw the pass to Christian Laettner to beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. To be remembered in one of basketball’s biggest moments is a very big deal. Nobody will ever become a basketball fan in the future and not hear of Grant Hill.
So how will Hill be remembered? He will be remembered, that’s the important thing.