Well before Kobe Bryant was drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan, many believed the next transcendent NBA superstar would be Grant Hill.
Unfortunately, injuries robbed Hill of many of his prime years, but he was still able to have a nice career and play against many of the best the league had to offer.
In an interview with Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Hill revealed that no one was more difficult to guard than Kobe:
“In Phoenix, why the hell I was guarding him at 36, 37, I don’t know,” Hill told Sporting News. “It was one of those things where, of all the guys I had to guard at that time, he was by far the toughest.”
Hill would expound on exactly what made Kobe so difficult to contain:
“Certain guys, even All-Stars, you can guard and you have a game plan […] But with Kobe, he was so good, you could throw all the analytics out the window, you could forget trying to play against his tendencies and all of that. Because you could do everything right. You could be on him, you could guess right on what he was going to do, you could time it perfectly, everything. And you turn around, and the ball goes in. And you go, ‘Well, OK.’ ”
Kobe has always garnered a lot of respect from his peers and this is another case of that. There have been plenty of cases where someone defends Kobe as perfect as possible and it doesn’t matter.
Few know that as well as Hill, who was guarding Kobe in the 2010 Western Conference Finals when he hit an extremely difficult fadeaway jumper to ice the game and series. That shot is most notable for Kobe patting Suns coach Alvin Gentry on the butt after, but it also served as a reminder that no matter what an opponent did, Kobe could not be stopped.