Hall of Fame a ‘really special’ honor for ex-Piston Grant Hill

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Grant Hill

San Antonio – It won’t be official until Saturday afternoon, but former Detroit Pistons star Grant Hill is expected to be named to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame when the 2018 class is announced at the Final Four.

Hill was a two-time national champion and two-time All-American at Duke who was drafted in the first round of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Pistons. He played his first six seasons with the Pistons, averaging 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.3 assists.

Injuries hampered Hill’s career from there. However, he still made seven All-Star appearances, was an All-NBA first team honoree in 1996-97 and won a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

“Yeah, I’m excited,” Hill said on Friday as he watched Michigan go through its open practice at the Alamodome. “It’s one of those things. It was not one of those goals when you’re young that you shoot for, but as you retire and reflect – and just for me personally having a weird career, from college, the NBA, the injuries and coming back. It’s a really, really special recognition.

“I’m fired up for these games. I’m fired up for tomorrow and I’m fired up for September.”

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The class, which will include Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, who shared the 1995 Rookie of the Year Award with Hill, will be inducted during ceremonies in September at the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Hill, who played 19 years in the NBA with Detroit, Orlando, Phoenix and the L.A. Clippers, is at the Final Four as part of the TBS broadcast team with Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery.

He was hoping his alma mater would be in San Antonio, but Duke lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight. But being around the Final Four allowed him to reminisce about his time with the Blue Devils, including his iconic alley-oop dunk in the 1991 NCAA Championship game against Kansas.

“I’m amazed people still remember Duke and what we did and those teams,” Hill said. “Whether they liked us or hated us, we evoked emotions and people remember. I’m dumfounded by that. Yeah, I think people remember that are old enough to remember. They remember Detroit, they remember the injuries. Hopefully they remember and respect the coming back from the injuries.”

Hill joked he doesn’t get quite the same treatment from his kids, who will pull up old YouTube highlights and give their dad a hard time.

“I still have this old VHS VCR at my house and they’ll find an old tape and put it in,” Hill said. “They’re like, ‘Dad, you weren’t always a scrub. You actually were pretty good.’

“I’m like, ‘Man, I was kinda good.’”