Everything in life has a transitional period and in the game of basketball it's no different. Over the last few seasons fans like myself have seen guys they grew up watching play retire from the game such as Shaq, Rasheed Wallace and Baron Davis. In the last few days 2 players who I grew up with and have been in the league for as long as I can remember retired from pro basketball. I am speaking about Grant Hill and Jason Kidd of course, who both shared rookie of the year honors in 1994.
Both of these talented players careers take on a different meaning. For Grant Hill it was a bunch of “What if's” due to injuries throughout the course of his career he was never ever able to hit his peak as a basketball player. For Jason Kidd he was a game changer who reinvented himself several times and took the perennial cellar dwelling New Jersey Nets to new heights taking them to the finals twice. Regardless of what happened though both had their fair share of great moments on the basketball court.
Grant Hill had all the hype coming in from Duke capturing 2 national championships garnering hype from many of the biggest names in basketball at that time. “He is simply a marvelous player who can do it all” Larry Brown said. He at one point was heralded as “The next Michael Jordan” and had the explosiveness to prove it just go on youtube. In fact Michael Jordan back in an interview stated the following about Grant Hill”I think Grant Hill's skills are unbelievable, he is definitely the type of player that can take over a game, he's probably top 4 players in the game today”. To actually get that praise from the guy you are being compared is a big deal.
For all the praise Grant received he also was unable to show the NBA world what his ceiling was due to many injuries. From 1999- 2008 Grant had problems staying on the court and never played 75+ games in that time frame. It makes you wonder what a healthy Grant Hill and Tracy Mcgrady could have done in Orlando with the Magic. They most likely wold of been contenders in the east year in year out.
There are many ways we can look at the career of Grant Hill. We can say “Here is Grant Hill who couldn't stay healthy, who let the fans down, Fila down and never maximized his potential”. Or we can say “Here is Grant Hill who didn't live up to the hype but was still a 7 time All-Star who fought his injuries to the very end to still become a productive role player in the league". If you want to know how great Grant Hill was at one point look at the tweet from ESPN's stats twitter account down below and you will see how great Grant was.
Grant Hill retires. He's 1 of 6 players to average 20-5-5 in his first 6 NBA seasons.It's an impressive list twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/…
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 2, 2013
Jason Kidd is different then Grant though he had hype but was more durable to prove it to be true. He came into the league as a guy who could do a little of everything Score,pass, rebound and was a bit bigger and stronger then most point guards which allowed him to get 107 Triple-Doubles over the course of his career.
Jason Kidd will always be known to most basketball fans as the guy who elevated the then New Jersey Nets franchise to new heights taking them to the finals 2 times. The only problem is the Nets ran into the 2 biggest dynasty’s of this era in the Lakers and Spurs but make no mistake about it Kidd was a game changer. Whether with Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson or Kerry Kittles Kidd made the Nets a must watch team in the NBA and played some of the most exciting basketball of the 2000's leading the league in assists 5 times in his tenure with the Nets. So to the Brooklyn Nets Organization retire #5 at the Barclay’s center.
Of course all the accolades with Nets were great but the legacy of Kidd was cemented in 2011 when as a member of the Dallas Mavericks where he earned his 1st and only championship ring beating Lebron James and the Miami Heat. From that part of his career to now he had to transition his game from a guy who liked to get to the basket to a guy who became a shooter and worked tirelessly to improve his perimeter J. As he leaves the league he is the 3rd greatest shooter in NBA History which is a testament to how hard he worked as a player.
So to the careers of Jason Kidd and Grant Hill I on behalf of many basketball fans say so long, It was a joy to watch you play.