Not Fade Away: On Grant Hill

Grant Hill was a great player who could've had a greater career. Instead, he embodied a different type of greatness.
Share |

There’s not just one way to be a fan, and nothing preventing people from picking a team or a sport because it works with their commute or place of birth or television watching habits or whatever. But caring about sports is both easier and more rewarding when you know something about the sport’s history. This is true in a basic knowing-what-you’re-talking-about sense, but also because some sense of history provides context for the present, and both sanctifies and explains the monuments and heroes of the past we use to measure our current stars; it serves as a link between fans of different generations, and helps the various achievements of this generation make a little more sense. But there’s only so much we can know, or might want to know.

There is just so much ghost basketball back there; we can’t appreciate the paleo-game in the way we do today, both because the information we have is spotty and because that game is fundamentally different from this one. We remember the Jordans and the Birds, as we should, but with time we lose the finer, weirder points of their context; Chris Gatling and Vin Baker are reduced to bit part players. Which, in the broad sweep of things, they were. But this is sad in the same sweet way as nostalgia, this sense of justified fade. It’s for the best not to be 18, toting around a head full of the stats and highlights of some decent, idiosyncratic mid-90’s power forwards. The great stars, the ones everyone remembers, define the shape of the league and our memories of it, but one of the greatest joys of following the NBA are the players who give the league its color. By the time the next generation of dominant players rolls around and LeBron James retires, the life-affirming wackiness of dear J.R. Smith will be lost to history. And this is a loss: if we only remember LeBron and forget J.R., we’re not necessarily remembering what’s most fun about watching basketball right now.

There will be new characters, maybe even new J.R.’s, but it will be different, and they’ll be doomed, too. As the seasons pile up, in the record books and in our minds, whole careers get swallowed up, leaving only a few names from each decade. The awesome Kings teams I grew up cheering for were really important to me, but nobody will remember them. They will remember who they lost to, one last defeat.

***

I never really watched Grant Hill play in the NBA until it was too late. When he was a defensive ace and generally useful guy on the late-period Nash Suns, he was discussed in a hushed tone that suggested he was a living ghost. This seemed absurd, even at the time: Hill was a very effective player and time steals athleticism from everyone. But Hill didn’t work his way up to being a third option on a decent team; he was then making his way down from the All-NBA penthouse. Lost greatness, or at least greatness in decline, is sadder than empty promise, and Grant Hill’s case is a particularly keen example of this. Rather than the slow, steady unravelling common to his peers, losing a few points per game and tenths-of-a-second per first step, Hill broke down all at once and then was left to rebuild what he could. Turns out, ‘what he could’ was fight through four lost seasons’ worth of injuries before playing six more relatively healthy, if not All-Star level, years out West. A good final act, all told, if not the one for which he seemed destined during his zenith. Even a player as great as Grant Hill doesn’t get to choose how it all ends.

***

Because of the three distinct acts of his career, the historical perspective on Grant Hill is murky; the three pieces have bled together. He had the potential for a much clearer story. In the timeline where Hill doesn’t hurt himself, the intertidal zone between Jordan and Duncan/Bryant would have belonged to Hill; he could have shared it, who knows. I’ve grown up with LeBron James emerging as the most transcendent talent of his era; looking for comparisons to LeBron is a losing endeavor, but one that turns up more often than I expected was a young Grant Hill. This perhaps explains that weird tone of regret from his Phoenix years: at his realized peak ability, Hill was years ahead of his time.

There were no churning cosmic forces behind Hill’s lost years, just the familiar cruel frailty of the human body. It would be easy to focus on a sad story of transcendence lost, but Hill’s refusal to bend to circumstance and wrest back control of his legacy is, for all those brilliantly dominant seasons, what is maybe most impressive about him. That’s what he got in this world, and he took it and he was not sorry.

I might as well admit that I am deeply bummed the fuck out I never got to see Hill use his full set of powers, but there are some positives to the way things turned out, and there was a subtle grace to the diminished player he became. They player he was when I knew him was one of the smartest NBA-ers in the modern game, and watching the craft and toughness with which he made the most of his remaining strength was as affecting as it was impressive. The tradecraft was the impressive part; the affecting part is how Hill must have loved the game to stick with it, millions of dollars after he needed his last paycheck and years after what he had to know was his last great day on the court. He had to have been so hopelessly in it for life that all he’d already done was not enough.

This matters, or at least it matters to me. It isn’t about entry-level pundit speak, “heart” or “guts.” This is a connection with the sport on an elemental level, in good times and bad. Dedication is something of a cliche, too, admittedly. But there’s no other name for what kept Grant Hill in the game after he stopped being the Grant Hill he’d been.

Hill’s place in the Hall of Fame is probably ensured. He was one of the best five players in the league during his heyday; his college career remains unfuckwithable. NBA history will always be defined by the biggest and brightest, but players like Grant Hill, who aren’t quite era-defining players, fill in the gaps and create the texture for today’s game. In terms of setting the course of the league, Hill falls short. He was great, but the memory of him will fade; it already has, and his greatest years seem long ago. But he taught us something all the same. If his earliest years is fading, the dedication that earned him his final NBA act will be harder to forget.


Share |

Comments

achievements of this generation make a little more sense. But there’s only so much we can know, or might want to know. best seo audit tool

achievements of this generation make a little more sense. But there’s only so much we can know, or might want to know. http://freemusicallyfollowers.iwantthis4free.com/

If you need Niche Relevant high-quality bl0g comments and higher ranks on SERP's, then you are at the right place. I will submit manual backlinks via blog comment on your niche. Niche Relevant Blog Comments

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful.
imessage for windows

It was a magnificent opportunity to visit this sort of site and I am cheerful to know. much thanks to you such a great amount for allowing us to have this open door.best weight loss pills for men

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.buy brestrogen

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and awesome tips..even I additionally imagine that diligent work is the most imperative part of getting achievement..best fairness cream for dark skin

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and awesome tips..even I additionally imagine that diligent work is the most imperative part of getting achievement.. mobile number tracker with current location

دانلود قسمت هفدهم سریال عاشقانه, دانلود رایگان سریال عاشقانه, دانلود سریال جدید عاشقانه ایرانی دانلود سریال عاشقانه با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت 17 عاشقانه

I was perusing your article and thought about whether you had considered making a digital book on this subject. You're composing would offer it quick. You have a great deal of composing ability. Company Registration in India

I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post. voyance-retour-amour.com

I've perused some well done here. Certainly worth bookmarking for returning to. I amaze the amount of exertion you put to make such an extraordinary enlightening site.imessage for windows

Hey what a splendid post I have run over and trust me I have been looking out for this comparative sort of post for recent week and barely ran over this. Much thanks and will search for more postings from you.download bluestacks for pc

http://www.markedsindex.dk/blog/B992/Koncertbussen-Fyn.aspx Your knowledge of this subject comes through clearly in this article. I love to read this kind of articles, I hope you will update it. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Marvelous article! I need individuals to know exactly how great this data is in your article. It's fascinating, convincing substance. Your perspectives are much like my own particular concerning this subject.minecraft download free full version | psn code generator download

"Boredom is a killer—which is why a cure for boredom can be a lifesaver.

The truth is, portable Bluetooth speakers have been the handheld solution to elevate the moment, whether at the beach, the middle of a party, or a lazy afternoon at home for years now—and your brand can get in on that excitement.

Right now—with C2BPromo.com, you can put you logo on a wide array of Promotional Bluetooth Speakers, in all different shapes and sizes, from waterproof to resilient wood—with models coming in at 6-7 dollars all the way up to high-end luxury designs. Multiple surfaces on almost every customized Bluetooth speaker can showcase your logo—so no matter which way it’s turned, your name is always center staged." Branded Bluetooth Speaker

It was a decent post in reality. I altogether delighted in understanding it in my lunch time. Will without a doubt come and visit this blog all the more frequently. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing. designer mens clothing sale online

This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. font face generator

bags cheap uk Your knowledge of this subject comes through clearly in this article. I love to read this kind of articles, I hope you will update it. Thank you for sharing it with me.

italian designers handbags Lots of thanks for this post.I think it is a very good post. It helps us many away. So many many thanks for this article.

designer shoes Lots of thanks for this post.I think it is a very good post. It helps us many away. So many many thanks for this article.

I feel really happy to have seen your webpage and look forward to so many more entertaining times reading here. Thanks once more for all the details.
Labor Relations

measure our current stars; it serves as a link between fans of different generations, and helps the various achievements of this generation make a little more sense. But there’s only so much we can know, or might want to know. Check Out This Website

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
Criminal Defense Attorney

it's really nice and meanful. it's really cool blog. Linking is very useful thing.you have really helped lots of people who visit blog and provide them usefull information.
reviews on mspy software

Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importations your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it.
ipage vs godaddy

Very exciting to study this content.I would like to thank you for the initiatives you had created for composing this amazing content.
bluehost promo code

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
locksmiths in phoenix

It would be ideal if you look at my site too and let me comprehend what you think. buy instagram likes

The good news is that with only a few minutes each day of simple muscle stretching, you can break this pattern and end recurring back pain. it support london

Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful. loft conversions hertfordshire

i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. article

Much obliged to you for offering to us,I too dependably gain some new useful knowledge from your post. Loftplan

You can obtain answers with your voyance gratuite immediate, brought by a complete team of professionals of clairvoyance. St lucia 4x4 car rental

The Import-Export workshop included all the resources and tools one need to start and operate a profitable international trading company. tree service omaha

This article helped for a while to get aware about safety travelling tips. Clothing Review

I really appreciate your work. Thanks for sharing it.hcg shots

Just check with the list of programs and choose unnecessary programs from them.1998 honda cr-v car covers

I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all... http://pakistanforjesus.weebly.com/

Much obliged for the online journal stacked with such a variety of data. Ceasing by your site assisted me with getting what I was searching for. escorts in lebanon

I am happy to know. thank you so much for giving us a chance to have this opportunity.. IRO's style

It is an awesome site.. The Design looks great.. Continue working like that!. Fashion Apparel

This one is great. keep doing awesome!.. escort in lebanon

Nice article and you can view my site for the best apps for your mobile and for pc here it is plus size kaftan

I discovered such a large number of fascinating stuff in your web journal particularly its discourse. Off Shoulder Pom Pom Tunic

Goodness, cool post. I"d like to compose like this as well – requiring significant investment and genuine diligent work to make an incredible article… yet I put things off an excessive amount of and never appear to begin. Much obliged however. media coverage

It was a decent post to be sure. I completely delighted in understanding it in my lunch time. Will definitely come and visit this blog all the more frequently. Much obliged for sharing. golf tutorial

Very good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need. Loft conversions Billericay

Very useful tips for us.Now i will try your technique lets see what happen! Loftplan

I’m happy I located this blog! From time to time, students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing. Your first-class knowledge about this good post can become a proper basis for such peopleUnique Domains