Big ups to Grant Hill – along with Jason Kidd and Steve Nash – on being elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Class of 2018.
Very deserving to a guy who not only was underappreciated by many basketball fans, but also a very nice guy. Hill is easily one of the classiest dudes in all of basketball, and I was very happy to learn of his induction.
I just can’t help but wonder how greater Hill would have been if it weren’t for injuries.
Injuries, while part of sports, are perhaps the cruelest forms of athletic fate. Legacies have been tarnished thanks to injuries, especially when it cuts Hall of Fame careers short.
Former NFL stars Terrell Davis and Sterling Sharpe come to mind. At least Davis was able to finally score a Hall of Fame induction.
People do not know just how good Hill was. And not only was he good, he was GREAT.
In his first season, Hill averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.77 steals per game. He was named 1994 Co-Rookie of the Year along with Jason Kidd.
Hill was named to the all-NBA First Team in 1997, and all-NBA Second Teams in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. He played in several NBA All-Star Game, where he made history by being the first rookie to lead an NBA All-Star fan balloting in with 1,289,585 votes, narrowly defeating Shaquille O’Neal. And not many people know this, but Hill became the first rookie in any of the four major professional sports leagues to lead all-star fan voting.
Hill was one of the first to perfect being a “point-forward”. Hill was the league leader in assists per game among non-guards from 1995-1999.
During his first six seasons of his career, Hill had a total of 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds and 2,720 assists. Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, and LeBron James are the only three players in league history to accomplish that feat after their first six seasons. So one could say that Hill was LeBron before LeBron.
Then the ankle injury – the first of many – happened. Followed by a series of groin injuries. And in perhaps the most serious, and definitely the scariest, a potentially fatal MRSA infection.
Those injuries robbed Hill of several games from 2000-2007. Could you imagine if Hill had have been healthy during those Orlando Magic years, along with Tracy McGrady? Not only would the Magic have been great again, Hill may have gone down as perhaps one of the greatest of all time.
Again, I’m happy – VERY happy – with Hill’s enshrinement. He (along with the likes of Bo Jackson) is just going to be one of those all-time sports “what-if”s.
Oh, and here is a nice mixtape of Hill’s highlights on the way out…