TCC had the chance to speak with Grant Hill last night as he prepares for a busy weekend of action taking on the Miami Heat and NY Knicks. Check out what he had to say about the Clippers Championship chances, dealing with injuries and life after basketball.
I am the coach of an under 18 boys basketball team, the players in the team all love the NBA, they watch it every day, checking out highlights on nba.com and YouTube and watching games on ESPN and SKY. (Along with those websites that we must not mention…) On the bus home from a particularly disappointing away game this year I was on my laptop and decided to go deep into my hard drive to watch some old videos to pass the time. (These are the clips downloaded around the year 2000, on a 56k modem, when it took a couple of hours to download a four minute low quality video clip!) After exposing the boys to some Kemp and Sprewell nastiness I put on the video that you can see below and was shocked at the boys reaction – “Wow, who is that?” How could they not recognise Grant Hill!? The player that was widely labeled the next Jordan after his explosive “rookie of the year” winning 1994-95 season. So taking nothing for granted, for the benefit of those that are not aware, and for the benefit of those who may have forgot, as a prelude to this post check out just how good Grant Hill was:
[vsw id=”TqSJrQ4vcyI” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
Of course Hill didn’t quite go on to reach the same level as Michael Jordan during a career where he was robbed of his prime years due to a series of debilitating and career threatening injuries. I thought that these years on the treatment table may have, in a peculiar way, helped Hill to still be playing at a high level into his 40’s but he doesn’t buy into that theory.
“That’s one way of looking at it but 40 is still 40! Whether you play a lot of minutes or not it’s still 40! I had some pretty serious injuries that I still have to manage and deal with now so it’s not like I am out of the woods. I think that that whole process and that whole experience of being hurt has really taught me about my body about taking care of myself and so i think that experience has helped me become somewhat anal about doing the right thing and preserving yourself and doing the maintenance work throughout the season. I missed some years but I don’t buy into that whole mileage thing, 40 is still 40, if you fall on the ground you feel it compared to when you are 30. I’m thankful in spite of all those injuries and setbacks and misfortune that i have went through that I’m still playing and have a chance to win a championship. “
The Clippers had a fantastic start to the season but have had a poor run of results in the past few weeks which has led to a slide down the standings in the ultra competitive Western Conference. This slide has coincided with injury problems, particularly to Chris Paul, and Hill believes that health is key to the Clippers chances of winning the NBA Championship.
“That’s our goal. We know there’s a lot of hard work in front of us and is not an easy goal but we feel we have the ability, the talent and the depth to be a good team and a Championship level team. Obviously there are a lot of variables that go into that, but we certainly first and foremost have the personnel, have the character and the talent to get the job done. So now we’ve just got to get healthy. Today we had our first practice where everybody practiced – everybody was healthy, the first time for the season. But hopefully, as we come out of the All-Star break, we’ll really have a nice stretch going into the post-season.”
Hill stated that winning the Championship would be the “icing on the cake” of his career and states that “It’d be great to go out on a bang,” although he was quick to quell any retirement rumours – “Not that I’d retire – but in terms of all I’ve been through over the course of my career, getting a Championship would be awesome.” So what would be next for Hill when he hangs up his playing boots, a coaching job? Maybe a position in an NBA front office? Not likely, “I don’t really see that, maybe sometime down the road I would love to get involved in an ownership capacity in some way. There is also some things in the political arena that maybe there for me. Growing up in Washington DC I like to say politics is the main sport and that is something of interest to me so we will have to wait and see.” Grant has a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the league and from my short conversation this reputation appears to be richly deserved. I prefer to remember the 1995-2000 version of Hill, a 6’8″ power forward with guard skills unlike any other player his size but even in his more limited, but effective, role coming off the Clippers bench it would be satisfying to see him lift the Larry O’Brien trophy that has eluded him during his 19 year career. It will be interesting to see where he ends up after his professional basketball career but whatever he ends up doing after the NBA one thing is for sure, he definitely gets my vote.
We asked our Facebook Fans and Twitter followers to ask us questions for Grant and we got the chance to put some of these to him:
What do you think about the NBA possibly expanding int Europe?
Obviously the idea of growing the league and establishing roots in Europe is attractive. In my own personal opinion I think if your gonna do it i think you cant just have one team in London you should have maybe 4/5 teams in Europe that just my own opinion I don’t have the research to back that up. I think if you had one team it might be too difficult but if you had a couple of teams you could go over for a four or five game road trip road trip and it might make more sense.
Who is the biggest joker in the Clippers locker room?
We have a few jokers in the Clippers locker room but The biggest joker is probably DeAndre Jordan, he is literately and figuratively the biggest joker in the locker room!
Who is the most underrated player you have every played against?
Wow! There is a lot of guys, its hard to single out one. People don’t realise that the 400 best basketball players in the world are here in the NBA and any given night regardless whether its LeBron or Carmelo or whoever you have to come out and be prepared to play. All of these guys – there is a reason why they are in the NBA! There are a lot of guys who are superstars who get a lot of the credit and attention and notoriety, and rightfully so, but there is also a plenty of guys who fly under the radar who everyone knows and respects as being a really talented player. There are too many for me to mention but believe you me there are a number of underrated players in this league who are super talented know how to play but for whatever reason fly under the radar.
The Los Angeles Clippers @ New York Knicks is exclusively live on Sky Sports 2HD this Sunday from 6pm as the first part of an NBA double-header. The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat at 8.30pm. #NBAonSky