Grant Hill - Hall of Famer?
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Hall of Fame Consideration for Mr. Nice Guy.
My first memories watching Grant Hill was back in 1991, as a very young and talented member of the Duke Blue Devils.
Duke was the team you loved to hate, but Hill was a special talent who you just knew would be an even better pro than he was college baller. When the Pistons drafted him in 1994, it marked a new era in Motown, and the re-branding of a franchise.
The Bad Boys era was done, and as Michael Jordan had just stepped away from the game the first time after the Bulls three-peat, the Pistons had their new face.
Mr. Nice Guy, as I referred to him even then, was in town. Hill had a squeaky clean background to go with a flawless game. At 6′8", he could play the shooting guard or small forward spot, and be a match-up problem for any team in the league.
Hill exploded in his rookie, year, where he averaged 20 points, six boards and five assists a game on his way to sharing the rookie of the year with Jason Kidd.
Hill’s popularity was immediate, as he landed endorsement deals off the court with the likes of Fila and Sprite, and he was one dubbed by many to be one of the players to take Jordan’s place at the time (along with Penny Hardaway and later Jerry Stackhouse).
Unfortunately for Grant, injuries would play a major part in derailing a promising career.
After the 1999-00 season, Grant Hill and Detroit were both ready to go in a different direction. The Magic welcomed Grant with open arms, and exchanged Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace for the All-Star.
Looking back, that looked like a one sided deal back then, but the Pistons wound up winning a title and went to the Finals twice due to Ben Wallace’s play.
Grant and young Tracy McGrady were supposed to be the new Jordan and Pippen in Disneyworld, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
Grant managed to play in only 18 games total in his first two seasons in Orlando, and missed the entire 2003-04 season due to injury. The outstanding numbers he put up in Detroit were far in the rear-view mirror for many fans, and eventually Hill’s run in Orlando would be labeled a disappointment.
In perhaps his final chapter as a pro, Hill currently is playing with the Phoenix Suns, where he is meshing well with Shaq, Steve Nash and company.
The promise and optimism that surrounded Hill when he arrived in the league 14-years ago is gone, and even if he does win a NBA title this season, Grant will come up just short of a Hall of Fame career.
My ballot will simply read, “Grant Hill - What could’ve been."
Other Hall of Fame votes