When Grant Hill got drafted to the NBA from Duke University in 1994, he was already a superstar and a rare player that immediately impacted his team. Hill was a franchise player, and there were immediate comparisons to Michael Jordan, even though his game was perhaps more similar to Scottie Pippen’s. After his rookie season, people immediately saw how good Hill was, and on top of that, he was a real nice guy that the media loved.
In an interview with Bob Costas after his rookie season in 1995, Hill talked about comparing him and Jordan. Even though they both had a tremendous impact on the game, their playing style and personality were different. Costas referred to Jordan as ruthless and, at the same time, ready to completely humiliate his opponent, while Hill was the complete opposite.
So much has been made in my rookie season about the comparison between us, but we have different games, and we are different people. If I'm ruthless enough, it remains to be seen.
After his rookie season, in which Hill averaged over 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists, Jordan invited him to play in pick-up games organized in Los Angeles. Hill was surprised at how welcoming Jordan was towards him, and he immediately sensed Jordan had a lot of respect for him from the get-go. The admiration was mutual because Hill had the opportunity to see firsthand what type of approach Jordan had to competitions. They also discussed things not related to basketball, which was surprising for Hill, who expected Jordan to be a completely different person.
Of course, I have a great deal of respect for him. I sensed there was a respect that he had for me, and I don’t know why, but he did. Of course, we competed against each other in Los Angeles, but afterward, he sat down and talked to me and tried to give me advice and ask me questions about all types of topics. It’s kinda neat when Michael Jordan gives you a bit of attention and wants to know how you feel about something, and I felt like I finally arrived.
Hill’s had several outstanding individual seasons for Detroit Pistons that were unfortunately cut short with multiple injuries. He made a steady recovery, but he was never the same player as he once was. However, he was productive enough to be a great role player for the Phoenix Suns and, in his 19 NBA seasons, established himself as a true athlete and a professional, which earned him a spot in the HOF.