Grant Hill announced his retirement on TNT tonight, closing a playing career that was long ago robbed of its better days by injuries.
Hill was drafted by the Pistons, won Rookie of the Year with the Pistons and finished as high in MVP voting (third in 1997) as a Piston ever has.* But Detroit fans, myself definitely included, never appreciated him enough at the time.
*George Yardley (1958), Dave Bing (1971) and Bob Lanier (1974) also finished third.
Hill never won a playoff series, though in hindsight, it was unfair to blame him for a weak supporting cast. And he never seemed tough enough, but asking anyone to follow the Bad Boys in Detroit was probably just a setup to fail.
I didn’t have that perspective at the time, and when Hill signed with the Magic, I was mad. Very mad. I couldn’t wait until he returned to The Palace, just so I could go boo him.
But Hill didn’t play at Detroit until 2005, five years after he left. By then, the Pistons had won a championship – led by by Ben Wallace, whom the Pistons acquired in the sign-and-trade that sent Hill to Orlando – and the bitterness had subsided.
Eventually, I realized how classy Hill is, how tough a competitor he is, how hard he works. I wish I had known all that sooner.