The Detroit Pistons have 13 names hanging from their rafters, but for some reason, Grant Hill is not one of them.
The debate over whether Hill’s number should be retired was stirred up after Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports asked Hill how it feels to be one of the only Hall of Famers to not have his number retired:
It would obviously mean a lot to Hill, but as far as I know, the Detroit Pistons have no plans to do it. The question is, should they?
Detroit Pistons: The case for Grant Hill Part 1
Goodwill was instantly attacked on Twitter by fans trying to claim that Grant Hill was not a Detroit icon, which is about as absurd as it gets.
Hill has his own section on Pistons’ Wiki called “The Grant Hill era,” so to pretend he is not an icon is just being obtuse. The man was one of the most popular players in the league while in Detroit, he was a fan favorite and anyone who was alive during that period should know that.
Hill was a 5-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, All-NBA player who changed the game of basketball and is undoubtedly the best small forward in team history and it’s not particularly close.
His career was derailed by injuries, but Hill was one of the best Pistons of all time and there is no arguing that. He was a triple-double machine who ushered the Point Forward era into the NBA.
Detroit Pistons: The case for Grant Hill Part 2
Once that was established, the Twitter naysayers had three other points: Grant Hill didn’t win a title. Grant Hill wasn’t with the Pistons long enough. The way Grant Hill left hurt the team’s feelings.
On the first point, both Bob Lanier and Dave Bing have their numbers retired and they won exactly one playoff series, so let’s not act like team success is all that matters. Lanier is really the prototype for Hill, as he too had his career ravaged by injuries and wasn’t on many good teams.
If we are talking longevity, I guess the NBA HALL OF FAME didn’t notice, because they put Hill in, so how in the world can the Pistons claim he’s not deserving of this honor when the league says he is? If his career was long enough to be a Hall of Famer then it was good enough to get his number retired by the team he spent the most time with (tied with Orlando) and for whom he had his best years.
The last one is the criteria that made me laugh the hardest. Grant Hill left as a free agent, which was totally his right. He also helped orchestrate a sign-and-trade that Orlando did not have to do, which brought back some guy called Ben Wallace, so it is not like he totally screwed the team.
The Pistons had not put a winning roster around him and Hill was weary from carrying them and wanted to move on. He didn’t do anything wrong and thanked the team and city when he left in a full-page ad.
Acting as if Grant Hill burned a bunch of bridges is not only disingenuous but also ignores how some of those other names hanging in the rafters behaved.
Fans have such short memories when they are trying to argue a narrative.
The fact of the matter is that Grant Hill is one of the best five players to ever put on a Pistons’ uniform and his number should be retired. All of the other stuff is just fans being argumentative gatekeepers and expressing their nostalgia for things that never existed.