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NBA / Oct 5, 2010 / 2:30 pm

Grant Hill defies the laws of nature

Grant Hill (photo. Keith Allison)

Whether you compete in the pros or just run pickup on the weekends, your age is not the only factor to consider when it comes to sports. While age and genetics do play a role, it doesn’t mean you have to give up the sport you love or stop getting paid to play. The concept of “Going out on top” is overrated if you truly love the game enough to play until the wheels fall off.

Take Chipper Jones. The Atlanta Braves future Hall of Fame third baseman is 38 years old, coming off a major knee surgery, and plans on returning to play Major League Baseball next season. The same can be said for Kevin Garnett, arguably the greatest defensive leader of the post-Bill Russell era, who came back from major knee surgery at the age of 34 just to be able to help lead his team to another championship.

Which brings me to Grant Hill, who turned 38 today. In an interview with the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Suns’ small forward stated that being a certain age doesn’t hold him back from his game:

“I know I’m 38 chronologically, but I don’t feel it,” Hill said. “I don’t buy into the fact that I’m a certain age and supposed to be doing certain things. I feel great.”

Long ago, Hill was once dubbed the next Michael Jordan until he had an appendage filled with metal stuffed into his ankle and a giant “What if?” hanging over his career after he nearly died from a post-surgery infection. Hill was on the cusp of becoming one of the great players in NBA history, nabbing co-Rookie of the Year alongside Jason Kidd and being named an NBA All-Star seven times. But during his days in (and mostly out of) an Orlando Magic uniform, Hill only managed to play in 200 games in seven years, an average of 28.5 games per year, which in turn led many to believe his career was basically over.

But over the last four years in Phoenix, he has bounced back and become a solid starter on a playoff team. With the Suns he has averaged 12.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while playing in 233 of a possible 246 regular-season games. Because he missed so much time with the injuries earlier in his career, Hill’s legs haven’t acquired as much mileage, making him a “young” 38 years old.

“I really do feel young,” said Hill, who has been nicknamed “Benjamin Button” by Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry‘s daughter. “I feel like people have been waiting for me to slow down. I don’t feel like I’m slowing down at all. I enjoy the game and competing. I enjoy the brotherhood. I enjoy that I can still do it, be competitive and get the better of matchups at times to help this team.”

During the offseason, Hill exercised a one-year player option to play in what might be his last go-round beneath the Arizona sun. So, is age really just a number? Some might say yes and some might say no, but until then, let’s at least enjoy watching Grant Hill overcome what was said to be the impossible.

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  • Michorizo

    Age doesn’t mean anyting when it comes to athletes and ladies at the club…

  • Michorizo

    Age doesn’t mean anything when it comes to athletes and ladies at the club…

  • Shot In Your Face

    I heard Hill’s ankle doesn’t look like an ankle with all the surgeries he’s had done to it. Anyone got pictures of it?

  • Brooklyn Bulls

    Im happy for Grant…he’s a class act. All those years off equals low mileage on those legs

  • cesar

    ”Kevin Garnett, arguably the greatest defensive leader of the post-Bill Russell era” ?????

  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/703154723/the-soulchorea-project?pos=1 Kermit The Washington

    Yo, it’s impossible to hate this dude. I hope he cops a chip before he hangs it up for good (but only if he lands on the Lakers somehow).

    But his youthful vigor HAS to be a result of missing all that game time. Which makes it almost worth it, if he does indeed end up getting that ring.

  • Alex “Robocop” Murphy

    “Kevin Garnett, arguably the greatest defensive leader of the post-Bill Russell era”

    I think Pippen, Payton, B. Wallace, Mt. Mutumbo, Olajuwan would have something to say about that statement.

  • Joe’s Momma

    G.Hill is a classy dude. Good to see him playing still. All the years he missed might have allowed him to play until now, but he is a professional who has a good routine that also allows him to play at a high level.

    If Phx sucks this year, you might see Hill in a Knicks uniform next year. D’antoni and Walsh both love him, and NY is a great place to play with all the changes they made this past offseason.

  • Ross

    throwback to the game. Good luck this season. I remember cats where rocking Fila’s thanks to GHILL33. FILA AND SPRITE.

  • K-dawg

    G. Hill is totally a classy dude! Living here in PHX, we get the priviledge of seeing him play almost on a daily basis. I often wonder what would have been if he had been able to mix his amazing on-court intelligence with athletic ability. I guess we’ll never know.

  • hooper5013

    Dream, Big Ben, Glove, nor Mount Mutombo are better defensively that Garnett. Pipped may be the goat defensive player but he wasn’t the anchor. Garnett has a bunch of decent individual defenders around him (sans Rondo and Tony) and they are ironically the best defensive team in the League. He is impressive on D.

  • hooper5013

    Oh yeah and I think G. Hill should be a hall of famer off off class alone. Not to mention the kid was a fucking champion ball player in his heyday

  • http://www.dimemag.com Andrew Macaluso

    @Dime fans

    I never said he was the greatest defender of all time, I’m talking about defensive leadership and how he makes his teammates fall in love playing defense. He rides their asses like no one else I’ve ever seen.

  • This_Will_Hurt

    ……pause…

  • Seven Duece

    I love me some Pip, but I gotta give Garnett love on the Defensive end. I saw him D TMac up (in his 2nd season with the Magic) and just shut him down. McGrady had 18 of the hardest points I’ve ever seen. The game wasn’t even close at that.

    But Grant Hill has been one of my favorite players since I’ve known of him. It’s great to see him still playing and enjoying the game. Hope he gets a ring before retiring.

  • Reno

    As much I hate to admit this…. Grant Hill would be just what the lakers need for that bench. His game was made for the triangle.