Flash back to the year 2000. Grant Hill has just inked a mammoth deal with Orlando and is going to team with Tracy McGrady to make the Magic title contenders for years to come. Jordan and Pippen for a new generation. But it never worked out the way everyone thought it would.
Instead Hill went on to miss 357 of his next 492 possible regular season games. Before signing with the Magic he had fractured his ankle during the playoffs playing for the Detroit Pistons. Undeterred, the Magic gave him $93 Million dollars to come play for them but Hill’s ankle was never right. He played only 4 games his first season and suffered through setback after setback until finally in 2003 he underwent a procedure in which doctors re-fractured his ankle and realigned it with his leg bone. Then things went from bad to worse.
Only days after the surgery, Hill was rushed back to the hospital with a life threatening staph infection. He had to take intravenous antibiotics for the next six months and missed the entire 2003 – 2004 season.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye Grant Hill’s career trajectory had gone from all-time great to all-time disappointment. Some fans in Orlando probably hold a grudge to this day for what they consider to be money they shelled out that Hill never earned. I’m sure knowing they feel that way had to eat up Hill inside. Maybe it still does. For most players, between the injuries and the criticisms, it would be enough to throw in the towel. To call it a career and head for the refuge of the broadcast booth. But that wasn’t part of Grant Hill’s character.
Instead Hill did the only thing he knew how to do. He worked his tail off and got back on the court.
After playing 65 games in his last season in Orlando Hill signed with the Phoenix Suns. To the surprise of probably everyone except Hill himself, he has missed only 15 of the 314 possible regular season games as a members of the Suns coming in to Tuesday’s matchup with the Lakers. And it isn’t like he’s been playing spot minutes either. Although he’s not the athlete he once was, Hill was a key member of the Suns squad that came within 2 games of the NBA finals last season, the deepest playoff run of Hill’s career. Maybe he never regained the MVP caliber form that he showed while a Piston, but Grant Hill certainly has demonstrated a level of perseverance few can equal.
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