I began my day this morning with the usual routine: hit snooze until I talk myself into not taking a shower, check the temperature and cry into my bowl of Cheerios with ¾ of a banana, 10 minutes of uni-cycle Pilates, and of course, a little SportsCenter. It’s a deplorable act of sorts, especially since it’s usually the last thing I watch before I go to bed, but hey, if anything of significance occurred in the world of sports between 1:30am-8:30am, I want to know, lest I am ostracized at the water cooler/lunch table.
“Hey, did you see that Hawaii/San Diego St finish?”
“What?! No. I forgot to take my morning dose of SportsCenter.”
“What else did you forget, you’re heterosexuality?!”
(laughs and high fives all around, as I solemnly take my lunch tray over to the goth table)
Anyway, back to the…well, back to something. So I was doing my normal stare at my closet until I’m coherent enough to find something that’s not dirty routine, SportsCenter’s hollowly shouting in the background–it’s forced arguments between analysts scathingly placating each and every viewer–when I hear a name. Grant Hill. What? You’ve got to be kidding me, Grant Hill still plays? Astonishing. After all, I consider myself awfully read on the ‘goings ons’ in sports, but that being said, I’d rather watch a Hillary Clinton prostate exam than a full NBA game (she has one, get over it). That wasn’t always the case, however, oh no. In fact, Grant Hill was one of my all-time favorites. Ok, so he’s .5 of the Christian Laettner shot, I forgave (it’s not his fault he was unguarded). During his first few years with the Pistons, there was nobody more electrifying than Hill. He jumped over people, made it rain, dished the dimes, and pilfered the rock. All in pleasingly tawdry light bluish/greenish Piston uniforms which struck a chord with adolescents. I had his jersey, home and away. Even better, I peerlessly rocked his Dream Team jersey with the ardor of an Olympian. He spoke well, did all the right things, and even tickled the ivories. His innocuous look made him ubiquitous on the commercial scene, prompting kids like me to drink Sprite and eat at McDonald’s (thankfully I had more sense than to wear Filas). He was the anit-Allen Iverson, more Church Choir than Crip, and in the years where seemingly every rookie was pegged as the “new MJ”, appeared to be the rightful successor.
Unfortunately, Grant was brittle; as fragile as the innocence of an alter-boy at Summer Priest Camp. By the late 90’s, Hill was merely an NBA also-ran stuffed in the optional third row seating of Kobe Bryant’s Navigator. His ankle merely a synthetic tape-job, and his knees more battered than Paris Hilton’s, it appeared as if Hill would take his rightful place in the broadcast booth any day now. Sitting out for half to full seasons at a time, Hill had become just another MJ “mirage”; an articulate Penny Hardaway.
In the last few years, I knew Hill was still in the league, but figured he was just there to collect his severance and hang on to whatever products were still willing to attach his name. I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised to hear his name this morning since I can’t recall a retirement announcement, but just assumed he was applying that shiny Duke degree elsewhere. Well, not only is Hill still truckin’, he’s averaging 15 a game for Orlando, even though his game now rests far under the rim.
Then it hit me. I’m sick of you Grant. Please tell me this year is your last. You came in with current-day has been’s like Webber, Mashburn, Rose, Hardaway, and “Big Dog” Robinson. For crying out loud, you played in the NBA when high-tight fades and medium length shorts were en vogue. You play on one ankle and you haven’t seen a commercial since the Gin Blossoms were chic. You’re just another annoying Dukie, and pretty much a dork. So please Grant, make this season your last and enroll in the ESPN Analyst School for Ex-Eloquent Athletes…so I can watch you on SportsCenter every night, and every morning.