By Bad Seed
Grant Henry Hill (born October 5, 1972) is an American professional basketball player currently playing for the NBA's Phoenix Suns. He is 2.04 m (6 ft 8 in). As a collegiate and early professional, Hill was considered one of the best all-around players in the game, often leading his team in points, rebounds and assists.
Grant Hill was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the third pick in the NBA Draft after graduating from Duke in 1994. He entered the league to high expectations, where many expected him to be the future face of the league in a time when Michael Jordan was retired. In his first season, he averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.77 steals per game, and became the first Pistons rookie since Isiah Thomas in 1981-82 to score 1000 points. Hill ended up sharing NBA Rookie of the Year Award honors with Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks, becoming the first Piston since Dave Bing in 1966-67 to win the award. Hill also won the Sporting News Rookie Of the Year award. He was named to the all-NBA first team in 1997, and all-NBA second teams in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Hill also regularly played in the NBA All-Star Game, where he made history by being the first rookie ever to lead an NBA All-Star fan balloting in (1994-95) with 1,289,585 votes, narrowly defeating Shaquille O'Neal. In fact, Hill became the first rookie in all major sports to get most votes for an All-Star game.
In his second season (1995-96), he once again led the All-Star fan balloting, this time edging Michael Jordan (Jordan's first All-Star game after returning since retiring in 1993). During the 1995-96 season, Hill showcased his all-round abilities by leading the NBA in triple-doubles (10). He also won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as a member of the U.S. men's basketball team, where he had the team's fifth highest scoring average (9.7) and led the team in steals (18). Hill's 1996-97 season was his finest yet, with averages of 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He became the first player since Larry Bird in 1989-90 to average 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a season, an accomplishment that has not been duplicated since. Once again, Hill led the league in triple-doubles, where his 13 triple-doubles represented 35 percent of the league's triple-double total that season. He was the league's Player of the Month for January and was also awarded NBA's IBM Award, given to the player with the biggest statistical contributions to his team. He finished third in MVP voting, behind Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.
Much like Scottie Pippen with the Bulls, Hill assumed the role of a "point forward" in Detroit, running the Pistons offense. As a result, between the 1995-96 and 1998-99 NBA seasons, Hill was the league leader in assists per game among non-guards all four seasons. In the lockout-shortened 1999 season, as he led his team in points, rebounds and assists for the third time, Grant Hill joined Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history to lead their teams in scoring, rebounding and assists more than once. Hill and Chamberlain are the only two players in league history to lead their teams in points, rebounds and assists per game three times. Hill was selected to play in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, but in the end no NBA players played in this tournament due to the lockout.
Hill's 1999-2000 season showed that he could be one of NBA's truly dominant scorers. He averaged 25.8 points while shooting 49% from the field, the season's third highest scoring average, behind MVP Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson. He maintained solid overall numbers, averaging 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. However, despite Hill's individual accomplishments in Detroit, the Pistons never made it far in the playoffs, either losing in the first round (1996, 1997 and 1999), or missing the playoffs entirely in the 1994-95 and 1997-98 seasons. The 2000 playoffs would be no different. On April 15, 2000, 7 days before the start of the playoffs, Hill sprained his left ankle in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite his hurting ankle, Hill was bothered by being labeled "soft" by some Pistons fans and thus decided to play against the first round opponent, Miami Heat. However, his injured ankle got worse and Hill was forced to leave halfway through game 2. Eventually, the Heat swept the Pistons 3-0. Hill was initially selected for the 2000 Summer Olympics U.S. team, but could not play due to his ankle injury, which would prove to be a major liability for many years to come.
After the first six seasons of his career, before his ankle injury, Hill had a total of 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds and 2,720 assists. Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird are the only two players in league history to eclipse these numbers after their first six seasons.