Sixteen years ago, the "Next Michael Jordan" was drafted out of Duke University by the Detroit Pistons. That third pick was none other than Grant Hill. The pressure would be on Hill's back to become the new face of the NBA.
In his first few seasons Hill did not disappoint. He was dominating like not many players around him could. He quickly became the Co-Rookie of the Year, had numerous All-Star appearances, and was became idolized by kids. Fans saw flashes of hope for what lay ahead.
It seemed like nothing could stop Grant Hill.
But just like that, it was gone.
Hill's ankles and legs were not able to keep up with his excellent slashing and play-making ability night after night. Every season, a new injury would keep Hill a spectator and not the star. Shortly after, people started counting him out and expected him to retire. He was thinking the same thoughts.
Watching Hill play the last three seasons with the Phoenix Suns and you wouldn't be able to tell he was once on the verge of watching the NBA from the comfort of a La-Z-Boy recliner. What he has been able to do as a 37-year-old starting small forward gives hope to veterans across the league.
When you look at his career achievements, it is hard to see how he will not be enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Hill should be a role model for all young players after a look at this list:
- Won back-to-back NCAA titles with Duke in 1991 and 1992.
- ACC player of the year in 1994, as well as added to the ACC 50th Anniversary Basketball Team.
- Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, and named to the All-Rookie team.
- Won a Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympics with USA Basketball. Also a Bronze Medal at the 1991 Pan American Games.
- Made the All-NBA team five times.
- Voted an All-Star seven times.
- The only three-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award.
- Career totals of: 15,849 points, 3,919 assists, 5,611 rebounds, and 1,132 steals.
Even though he did not live up to the billing as the "Next Michael Jordan," Grant Hill has made a name for himself since entering the league in 1994. He is highly respected around the league, on and off the court, and continues to make himself not only a better player, but a better person.
If those selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame are recognized for their outstanding contribution to the sport and celebrated for their accomplishments and achievements, then we should expect Grant Hill to be honored and added to the list of basketball's greats.