The Los Angeles Clippers have announced that Grant Hill has decided to walk away from the game of basketball after 19 seasons in the NBA. Hill’s tenure in the NBA included being co-Rookie of the Year, a 7-time NBA All-Star, 1 NBA All-First team selection, 3-time NBA Sportsmanship Award winner, and a gold medal winner at the ’96 Olympics. His accomplishments before the NBA are just as impressive. Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, 1st & 2nd team All-American selections, and a 2-time NCAA Champion at Duke.
During his college days at Duke, most people may remember him for one long pass. If you are a fan of Kentucky or Duke, you will remember the rainbow arching heave to Christian Laettner. It was the perfect pass from Hill that set up Laettner for the game-winner to rip the hearts out of the Big Blue Nation and punch the Blue Devils ticket to the Final Four and ultimately back-to-back NCAA Championships. Perhaps a bit overshadowed by Laettner, Hill was a star in his own right. In 129 appearances, Hill averaged 14.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.6 APG. That consistency landed him at #3 in the NBA Draft, being selected by the Detroit Pistons.
Hill’s early professional career spanned 6 years with the Pistons, never seeing his team make it out of the first round. Detroit made the playoffs 4 out of 6 years Hill was on their roster. The Pistons then traded Hill to the Orlando Magic, and the story was nearly the same script. The Magic made the playoffs 4 out of 7 years with Hill, but never made it out of the 1st round. By the time Hill had been traded from Orlando to Phoenix, his numbers and playing time began to steadily decline. He arrived in Phoenix as a 35 year old, and saw the Suns miss the playoffs all but 2 years of his tenure. Hill was able to make it out of the first round of the playoffs in 2009-10 for the first time in his career. The Suns lost in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion L.A. Lakers in 6 games. At 40 years old, his last stop was this past season in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Hill only played in 28 games and only made 38 field goals.
Should Grant Hill be a Hall of Famer? I would think so. As a person and an NBA professional, he should be immediately enshrined. As a basketball player, the knocks will be from his injuries and the fact he’s never won an NBA title. His other achievements as a professional should merit enough weight for him to be considered. Hill’s class and professionalism will be missed. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.