Sunday, June 2, 2013

Spotlight: Grant Hill

"For all the memories of a gifted player who could score and defend and initiate an offense from small forward, for all the leadership while carrying himself with an uncommon dignity through parts of three decades in the NBA, Hill should be remembered for his toughness."
Grant Hill announced his retirement while appearing on TNT's pregame show before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Nineteen official seasons in the league, though 18 of actually playing and one of those barely playing, five at 20 points a game and two other times coming very close, seven All-Star appearances, another 44 games in the playoffs over eight years with four teams... and that does not begin to define what should be the lasting impression of Grant Hill.

"I've been hinting at it for the last few years and you get to a point where you just don't want to do it anymore. But I've enjoyed it, I've loved it," Hill said.

Over the course of 18 seasons, the 40-year-old forward averaged 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Along with his seven All-Star appearances, he was named to an All-NBA team five times.

After helping the Duke Blue Devils to consecutive national championships in 1991 and '92, Hill was drafted third overall by Detroit in 1994. He and Jason Kidd of Dallas shared Rookie of the Year honors. Hill was named to the all-rookie first team that year and became the first rookie to lead the league in All-Star fan balloting.

He won a gold medal on the U.S. basketball team at the 1996 Atlanta Games, then was named to the All-NBA first team in 1997. He was a three-time winner of the league's sportsmanship award. He was named to the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, but didn't play because of injury.

After leaving Detroit prior to the 2000-01 season, he spent seven seasons with the Orlando Magic in which he was limited to just 200 games due to injuries to the ankle.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is that back in 2003, I had multiple doctors tell me that I was done,” Hill said in making the retirement announcement Saturday during the TNT pre-game show before Heat-Pacers. “And I was able to play another 10 years. I played with the big fella (Shaquille O’Neal) for a couple years. I wasn’t the same player. But I still had a lot of fun in the game and got the most out of it.”

Before joining the Clippers, Hill spent five seasons with Phoenix. In 2010-11, he became the seventh player in NBA history to average 13 or more points at the age of 38 or older.

Hill was still getting first-place votes for the All-Defense team from coaches in 2011-12 at age 39. A couple months later, he was still an in-demand free agent, before choosing the Clippers in what depreciated into a disappointing personal and individual season. Even as age was taking over, teams around the league appreciated his mindset.

Hill appeared in just 29 games last season, his first with the Clippers, but he lent a valuable veteran presence. Gary Sacks, the team's vice president of basketball operations, called Hill "the embodiment of class, a true professional."

More information:
» NBA: The Real Grant Hill Legacy

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