Isiah Thomas claimed that the guys in the league, after Michael Jordan’s departure, want Grant Hill to take up the mantle of the ‘it guy’ of the NBA.
Grant Hill was an athlete like no other and proved that he was more than just a force that barrels down the lane to rock the rim. He had nifty footwork on the perimeter, a decent handle coupled with an explosive first step, and a jumper from all 180 degrees on the court.
Scoring wasn’t the only aspect of the game that Grant Hill dominated as he displayed LeBron-esque play-making abilities years before anybody even knew who the Cavaliers legend was. It’s safe to say that an athletic forward who could get his own shot from anywhere on the floor while dishing the rock to open teammates is a chemical concoction for being one of the greatest to ever do.
Unfortunately for Hill and NBA fans alike, we could never witness the full ‘Grant Hill experience’ over a long period of time. This is due to nagging injuries, mainly revolving around ankles that just couldn’t stay healthy.
Isiah Thomas and the rest of the league wanted Grant Hill to take up the mantle after Michael Jordan retired in 1998.
The 1998 NBA season saw Michael Jordan retire after winning his 6th title in eight years, leaving a void to fill in the league for the next ‘it guy’. Grant Hill was simultaneously averaging an impressive 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, showing flashes of what could be.
During this time, Isiah Thomas admits that the guys in the league, including himself, were looking to pass the mantle onto Hill as they believed him to be the supposed next ‘face of the NBA’. The ‘99-2000 season saw Grant Hill have his best season of his career as he averaged 25.5 points on 50% eFG%.
It was during his transfer to the Orlando Magic that his ankle problems would start to be a permanent burden for the eventual 7x All-Star. He would even sit out the entire ‘03-04 season due to ankle issues. He was able to bounce back the year after, even making the All-Star team for a seventh and final time.
After this, Grant Hill would slowly transition from being a possible first option on a Playoff contender to a role player in a matter of months. He did get honored by the Naismith Hall of Fame for his impressive 19-year career, a well deserved recognition of what he brought to the game of basketball.