I was in Orlando for a week in 2001, and saw Hill playing against the Houston Rockets in an exhibition game. To be honest, I don’t remember much of that game, but I do remember him making a quick spin along the baseline, and it looked all so simple, effortless, reminding me how much I suck at basketball. When I try to mimic anything NBA related in the gym it looks…embarrassing. Anyway, Hill was about to start his second season with the Magic, after his first was a fiasco since he only played four games because of his bum ankle. He looked great as far the untrained eye could see, but eventually only played fourteen games in the ‘01/’02 season.
Fast forward to present time. Shaquille O’Neal praised the team doctors when he played for Phoenix, and the same thing could be said for Grant Hill (who will be 37 by the time the season starts): he played in 70 games in ‘07/’08, and 82 games last season, for just the first time in his career. He will try to do it again since he signed a new contract to stay with the team for another two seasons, while he also could’ve gone to Celtics where he would have a bigger chance to win that elusive Championship than staying in the desert.
It all depends on what Steve Kerr will do from here. Along with Hill the Suns also signed Channing Frye, and as of now they still have Jason Richardson, Amar’e Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, a good young fella in Jared Dudley, and possibly Steve Nash (stated as the main reason why Hill decided to stay). They also did well in the Draft picking up Earl Clark, who can really blossom in Alvin Gentry’s system. If these players will still all be here after the summer, there’s still a chance the Suns will miss out on the Playoffs for a second consecutive season if they don’t get some help soon under the boards. I liked the idea of Tyson Chandler playing in Phoenix, but that might be too expensive for this franchise. We’ll just have to wait and see, because they’re far from the team that was so much fun to watch during the ’04-’05 season. But as long as Grant Hill is here, and he again and again finds ways to make some moves that still look effortless, things could turn around for Phoenix, and Grant’s season could be even longer than last season’s 82 games.