Sunday , Apr , 29 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Orlando’s Grant Hill Contemplating Retirement

Last night, Grant Hill likely played in his last NBA game. Before the injuries, before the setbacks, Hill was dubbed ‘The Next Jordan’ because of his flying play. We reminisce on the great career of G-Hill from winning rookie of the year to dropping Oscar Robertson numbers on The Association ….

NBA career started with a bang. It will likely end with a whimper.

On Saturday, the Detroit Pistons beat Hill’s 97-93. With the win, the Pistons swept the Magic in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The disappointing loss could be Hill’s final NBA game. Hill, a Duke legend and seven-time all-star, used to own this league. He was drafted third overall in 1994 and one year later the string-bean forward was named co-rookie of the year.

Early on, Hill was stuck with ‘The Next Jordan’ tag. It wasn’t too much of a stretch. He was athletic. He was talented. And he was marketable.

But Hill’s physique and style of play resembled Jordan’s famous co-star: Scottie Pippen. Like Pippen, he stands 6’7” and possesses those long, lean arms that must have been a gift from the basketball gods.

 And like Pippen, Hill dominated games through his all-round play. Don’t get it twisted, Hill could certainly score, but he did other things, too. Hill could pass the rock; developing his dime-dropping skills at Duke University. And Hill could also rebound; during his first few years in Detroit, he averaged close to 10 rebounds per game, a remarkable feat for a 3-man.

He peaked in 1999-2000. Hill went Oscar Robertson on opponents, averaging 26 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds per game.

That same year, however, Hill played on a bum ankle, refusing to skip his team’s playoff series against Miami. Playing through the ankle injury would prove costly.

The Pistons were swept. And Hill quickly swept himself out of Detroit. He was a free agent and signed a lucrative 7 year, 93 million dollar contract to play for the Orlando Magic.

Unfortunately, Hill did little playing. His ankle never recovered from that final playoff series with Detroit.

Over the next several seasons Hill, while collecting a ‘max’ salary, played in just 200 games.

At time, he showed flashes of his former self, darting to the basket with a swooping drive or disrupting the passing lanes with his Inspector Gadget arms. In 2004-05, he even returned to the All-Star game.

But he usually sat in street clothes at the end of the Magic bench. This year, he played in 64 games, averaging a respectable 14 points and 4 rebounds per game.

Today, after the loss, Hill talked about his future.

"We’ll see how I feel in June and July,” Hill said. “The desire, of course, is to always play. But you don’t want to live on anti-inflammatories and so forth. We’ll just see, at least in my case, how I feel."

Hill sounds like he’s done. Unfortunately, he’s going out on a whimper and not a bang.

Click here to read more of Oly Sandor’s NBA Blog.