The great Grant Hill
Posted June 3, 2013
"Grant was great." That's a phrase we heard a lot from Mike Krzyzewski when Grant Hill was a Blue Devil. That statement doesn't just define his basketball ability but his contributions to society as well. Hill is one of the greatest people/athletes I have ever had the privilege of covering in my 27 years in television.
Grant Hill was talented enough to jump to the NBA out of high school and certainly after a few years at Duke. But he chose to play four year's for Mike Krzyzewski and helped earn the program their first two national championships. Hill was the most talented of the Blue Devils on the 1991 & 1992 national championship teams but he was also one of the greatest teammates. In his first two years at Duke, there were times when Hill would rather defer than take over a game. Coach K would strongly encourage Hill to break out of his humble shell and dominate. He finally did.
Grant played at Duke when the program's popularity was at an all-time high. 10,000 fans would show up for an NCAA practice day on the road. I distinctly remember when the Blue Devils took the court to practice in Philadelphia, the Spectrum exploded with cheers and screams usually reserved for rock stars. Later that weekend, Hill would start one of the most memorable plays in sports history. He was the trigger man on that long pass to Christian Laettner who dropped Kentucky with his 10th field goal of the night.
This past Saturday Grant Hill announced his retirement from the NBA after 19 years. We saw flashes of greatness from Grant but numerous foot and ankle injuries took a lot out of him. He has had screws put in his foot and bone-grafts to his ankle trying to prolong his career. He felt guilty drawing such a large salary but not being able to play so he went through many painful rehabs to try to get back. Thank goodness his foot held up to allow him to do so.
Grant will no doubt succeed in whatever he chooses after basketball. He is too diverse not to.
After his Duke career was over, Hill was a guest on the David Letterman show. At the end of the interview Dave said we'll be right back and Grant Hill will play piano for us. When the 6-8 superstar touched the ivories, beautiful music poured out of that piano. I was amazed at his musical talent and mad at myself that I didn't know about it when he was at Duke! It would have been a great feature story but Grant Hill isn't one to brag about his talents or accomplishments.
Just go back to Coach K's three words. "Grant was great." He was, is and will continue to be.