Injuries are by far the worst part of sports and often the reason for athletes not reaching their full potential. It’s heartbreaking to see certain players struggle with constant and nagging injuries due to their low durability or simply bad luck. We have seen a fair share of great NBA careers being cut short due to injuries, but Grant Hill’s is one of the most notable and unfortunate ones.
Coming out of Duke in 1994, Grant Hill was a young star ready to take over the NBA, labeled by many the second coming of Michael Jordan. And Hill would deliver with the Pistons, averaging 20+ ppg in all of his six seasons with the Pistons, all while getting better every year. We were seeing a superstar in the making, ready to launch into his prime years and take over, but then injuries happened. Hill would join the Magic and badly injure his ankle, leaving him off the court for the better part of 4 straight seasons.
It marked the end of Grant Hill as we knew him, as the injuries and time off took a massive toll on the small forward. While talking with Dan Patrick on his show, Grant revealed how those injuries impacted him and his confidence:
“When I came back after 4 years…I had 4 years of injuries, your body betraying you. You lose the confidence in your body, but you also lose the confidence in who you are. So instead of feeling like I’m that best player, I’m just happy to be back. You want me to guard Kobe? Alright, I’ll guard Kobe. So I lost a little bit of that edge that’s necessary to be on that level.”Grant Hill, The Dan Patrick Show
That setback would leave people wondering how good Grant Hill could have been if he stayed healthy, making him one of the biggest “what-if” players in the history of the NBA. During his time with the Pistons, Hill could do virtually anything, as he was an all-around threat. The league and Grant himself were aware of his talent, as Hill also shared he felt like he was even better than the great Michael Jordan at that point:
“You know what? I think certain players when you’re at a certain level. Top 5,10 whatever. Top 20 in the league. You feel like you’re the best player on the court. So when I stepped on the court, even against Jordan, I always felt like I was the better player. Whether I was the best player or not, that’s what I felt.”Grant Hill, The Dan Patrick Show
Like every star player, Hill had to have confidence in himself to be on the highest level. But Grant had every right to big himself up, as players around the league, including MJ, respected Hill’s game. But after all the injuries and time off the court, Hill would eventually return in his 30’s as a valuable role player with some good seasons and numbers, but not even near the legacy he could have had. A true shame that we got stripped off seeing one of the more extraordinary talents the league has ever seen fulfill his potential.