Could Grant Hill Have Been Better Than Michael Jordan?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because his comeback tale is inspiring.
By Joshua Eferighe
Every so often a sports platform will pose the question of which basketball player would have had the best career had he not gotten injured. One name that’s always on the tantalizing what-if list? Grant Hill.
He’s a Hall of Famer, seven-time NBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, and he was dubbed the heir to Michael Jordan’s throne before anyone knew who LeBron was.
And Hill still believes he could have pulled it off. When OZY’s CEO and host of The Carlos Watson Show asks Hill if he could have been better than Jordan, Hill doesn’t hesitate. “Of course in my mind, yes, it was a possibility. Who knows?”
Instead, a series of ankle injuries starting in the 1999-2000 season with the Detroit Pistons derailed a run to all-time greatness for the versatile 6-foot-8 star. It took him four years to fully recover.
It took a tremendous amount of fight, grit, toughness, resolve.
“Having to fight to get back to play, what I went through with my injuries and missing four years, that story hasn’t really been told,” he says.
We know about the ankle. But what seems to get swept under the rug is the context surrounding it: It was the playoffs, Hill was in his contract year, and the demands were coming from all sides. “I think my whole injury situation, in some ways, could’ve been avoided,” he says. “It was sort of a comedy of errors, a series of mishaps, just poor medical advice, and obviously I accept responsibility.”
Hill’s career second act was not as fantastic as his first, but perhaps more satisfying given the work that went into it. “It took a tremendous amount of fight, grit, toughness, resolve,” he says, “and I’m just grateful that I was able to experience that, and get back and play til I was an old man at the age of 40.”
Hill is now a broadcaster and a producer of the new documentary A Most Beautiful Thing, about the country’s first African American high school rowing team, as well as a husband of 20-plus years and a father. What’s next? He tells Carlos that a memoir is on the way detailing the highs and lows of his NBA career.
What about a run for office for the polished Washington-area native? “I guess what I’ve learned is that there are ways to participate in the political process without being a politician,” he says. Perhaps Senator Hill will be yet another great what if.
- Joshua Eferighe