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Grant Hill, one-time underappreciated Piston, retires

Grant Hill announced his retirement on TNT tonight, closing a playing career that was long ago robbed of its better days by injuries.

Hill was drafted by the Pistons, won Rookie of the Year with the Pistons and finished as high in MVP voting (third in 1997) as a Piston ever has.* But Detroit fans, myself definitely included, never appreciated him enough at the time.

*George Yardley (1958), Dave Bing (1971) and Bob Lanier (1974) also finished third.

Hill never won a playoff series, though in hindsight, it was unfair to blame him for a weak supporting cast. And he never seemed tough enough, but asking anyone to follow the Bad Boys in Detroit was probably just a setup to fail.

I didn’t have that perspective at the time, and when Hill signed with the Magic, I was mad. Very mad. I couldn’t wait until he returned to The Palace, just so I could go boo him.

But Hill didn’t play at Detroit until 2005, five years after he left. By then, the Pistons had won a championship – led by by Ben Wallace, whom the Pistons acquired in the sign-and-trade that sent Hill to Orlando – and the bitterness had subsided.

Eventually, I realized how classy Hill is, how tough a competitor he is, how hard he works. I wish I had known all that sooner.

12 Comments

  • Jun 1, 20139:40 pm
    by ryan

    Reply

    Being a Duke fan I already knew how great Grant Hill was when he arrived in Detroit and what he did here only improved my view of him. Prior to the ankle injury he was on his way toward a place among the greatest small forwards ever to play the game.

    It killed me when he left but the bitterness and hate that came out of Detroit made me really sick. All those lost years in Florida were a terribly sad time.

    When Grant Hill resurrected his career in Phoenix, rising from the ashes, no one was happier than me. Those years as a very good role player showed all the haters, and there have been haters since he was a kid in high school, that their hatred of Grant Hill had nothing to do with him and everything to do with their own jealousy and weakness of character.

    Everyone has their basketball hero with moves they wish they could emulate for me that hero will always be Grant Hill crossing folks over and going to the basket with speed, grace and power.

  • Jun 1, 201310:32 pm
    by Diab

    Reply

    He is the reason I am a Detroit Pistons fan!

  • Jun 1, 201310:40 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    I loved Grant Hill when he was a piston. Not sure what your problem was with him. He did all anyone could when the pistons were trotting guys like Oliver Miller and Mark West and Terry Mills (CV 1.0) out there as his big men.
     

    • Jun 1, 201310:45 pm
      by gmehl

      Reply

      Losing Hill was like Cleveland losing LeBron. Everyone knew he was great and to see him leave before him even hit his peak was a very sad time. I remember being so mad at the time and I didn’t even know who Ben Wallace was. I thought Dumars was going crazy way back then but how wrong we all were.

  • Jun 1, 201310:41 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    I will never forget that alley oop that Hunter threw to him. Power and grace all at the same time.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBGw0Exxm08&list=PLxXFyre3Ulv2gmK_98nYQfnghpCwSKF5K 

  • Jun 1, 201311:43 pm
    by jprime18

    Reply

    Top 10 in all-time triple-doubles and he hasn’t had one since 1998. That’s insane

  • Jun 2, 201312:01 am
    by kamal

    Reply

    I was one of those guys who didn’t appreciate Hill when he was in Detroit.  I know, it wasn’t fair but I blamed him for us being mediocre.  But I did.

    -I didn’t like that he was so chummy chummy with Michael and Scottie.  He once said something to the effect that he can’t wait for Michael and Scottie to retire so that the Pistons could finally beat the Bulls.  Sickening.
    -I didn’t like that in the ’96 series against Orlando, Allan Houston seemed to be the only one out there playing with heart.  I actually blamed him for Allan Houston leaving because I thought the team was so enamored with Grant, that they didn’t even bother trying to keep Houston (Houston said at the time Detroit never made him an offer)
    -I didn’t like how with Hill out there, every Piston was resorted to being a spot up shooter.  I truly believed that was the reason Lindsey Hunter never developed into anything more than a 3&D point guard. 

    I know I was unfair to Grant Hill.  None of that was Grant Hill’s fault.  I was used to having a tough, winning team.  Hill was the face of, what I perceived was, this soft, mediocre team.  In actuality, dude was tough.  He was a baller and he was the best we had.  I wish he would’ve been more cold towards the Bulls, but still.  His first six seasons were on par with some of the all time greats.  I wish him well.

  • Jun 2, 201312:43 am
    by The Rake

    Reply

    Hill was a first team all NBA player, and in many ways, was practically LeBron before LeBron or a true gapper from MJ. The guy had an absurd all-around game and was a legend in the making before his injury in the playoffs. Hill was a stud, flat out. I was a fan long before Grant, and I’ll be a fan, long after, but Hill was a stud and its a shame that the injury derailed his career. Still, he had 13 more years in the league and was all class, all the time. A truly great player and person. I wish him the best and thank him for his efforts as a Piston.

  • Jun 2, 20136:28 am
    by Mr.BlockedShot

    Reply

    Hill was one of our best players ever.Imho the starting SF in an all-time Pistons roster. He was athletic, with range and high basketball IQ. But, unfortunately, his ankles weren’t made to handle so tough effort.  Thanks for the memories.

  • Jun 2, 20137:17 am
    by KaBa

    Reply

    Please never ever forget Grant Hill drinks Sprite. The completest player ever to play for the Pistons!

    I never felt bad because he left, as he always gave his maximum for the Pistons. I would love to see a farewall game between the Pistons and Magic where he would play one half of the game for each team. Would be fun and the money could be raised for some kind of charity.

    Right now I’m just sad cause he made me love basketball. 

  • Jun 2, 20132:53 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    Before Lebron there was Grant Hill,no player in the league was doing what he did stat wise. He was given a horrible and un balanced team for 7 years.

    Grant Hill was a rare player, he literally played 4 positions and was a underrated defender, and he played in a league dominate superstar and great teams. Grant is Still one of my favorite players of all time

  • Jun 6, 20131:32 am
    by Masa? gda?sk

    Reply

    Image Credit: TF Guantanamo photo by Army Spc
    Masa? gda?sk. A great place to purchase Modern Waffle Weave
    face cloths is at the eco-friendly shop Green – Feet.
    Health Food, Geoffery Whiteway.

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