Grant Hill’s ankles once looked to be made of glass. But nearly eight years after his last ankle surgery, he has reinvented himself to be an ironman in, of course, a place called Phoenix.
Where has the time gone? Not on Hill’s body, which is holding up better for the 38-year-old Suns forward than perhaps had his All-Star career not been put on hold for more than three seasons in Orlando. Hill played in all 82 games in 2008-09 and 81 last season, feats that not only underscore his remarkable recovery but his belief he’ll be playing a few more seasons yet.
The morning after putting up 30 points and 11 boards against Oklahoma City (all while defending Kevin Durant), Hill talked to us about the Suns’ blockbuster with Orlando, how he views his career and how much longer it will continue.
Dime: Sounds like you just got out of a team meeting, were there some new faces there this morning?
Grant Hill: They weren’t here. I don’t know if they’re coming today or tomorrow.
Dime: Was there a sense of urgency Sunday night from you, with the guys in the trade not yet there?
GH: I wasn’t thinking about coming and scoring, just coming out with good energy and just thinking about playing good defense on Durant, but shots started going early. We’re going to score, regardless of who we have, that’s what we do. Certainly, it’d be nice to have those guys.
Dime: How many years do you think you have left?
GH: I don’t know. I still think I can still play a while, definitely beyond this season. I feel great. One of the great things about this journey is taking ownership, learning about how to take care of yourself, and about nutrition, which is huge. Learning what to stay away from. Getting my rest. Obviously we have a great staff here. I get up in the morning and I feel great. I’m not dying to get to the shower just to warm up.
Dime: Are you more proud of your career pre-2000 injury or post-2003 when you had the last ankle surgery? Or are you just happy to still be playing, period?
GH: The bottom line is I love the game, it’s why I put myself through all this misery. I moved on because I love the game. The opportunity to still play, I was very appreciative of that. There’s not one thing in particular. (Post-surgeries) I played in 82 games, an All-Star game, a conference final. I did some things I was unsure I would ever get a chance to do again. I’m more proud of what I’ve done in terms of recovering and resuming my career in anything I’d done prior to the injury. Certainly, I had some success in college and the NBA, but really having to dig in deep and fight for all the things I was able to do, I’m just proud of that. That to me was the most defining thing that I can point to, was overcoming these injuries.
Dime: Greg Oden called himself ‘snakebit’ about feeling helpless with his string of injuries. Is that what you felt like?
GH: I felt like we kept fixing the problem, but in my case we never addressed why it was happening. I never had ankle problems. I had one ankle sprain in college, my sophomore year, because [Christian] Laettner pushed Cherokee Parks in practice and he landed on my ankle. Out of the blue, my last year in Detroit it just got worse and worse and worse. It wasn’t a freak accident, it was just over a period of weeks.
Dime: Does this trade put you back to the conference finals?
GH: We’ll see. It has potential to be a pretty good trade. I think it’s uncommon to see a trade that is good for both sides and that’s the case here. You’ve got to get your comfort level and build that, but I like the pieces, and I think they’ll complement us well.
Dime: Do you see your role changing much now?
GH: It constantly changes. The role might be to defend a [Manu] Ginobili. The other nights, I might be called upon to score a little more. It reads how things are going, but yeah, certain guys have roles and we all understand what they are. That shouldn’t be too difficult.
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