Father Time tells them to stop. Yet, they keep going.
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Grant Hill have all reached a crossroads in their own way, wondering how to walk the tight rope in maintaining longevity while ensuring their engine doesn’t fall apart. Hill, the Clippers forward who turned 40 on Oct. 5, jokes he’s “just faking it till I make it.” But if that were truly the case, he’d have fooled plenty right now.
“There’s a certain mutual respect that goes along with that,” Bryant said regarding Grant, the 18-year veteran. “I know what goes into the preparation and the daily grind of doing the things that are boring, stretching, icing and therapy and all of these other stuff. The fact he’s been able to do it at that level for long periods of time is remarkable.”
That’s why Bryant relishes matching up against Grant. Even if Bryant averaged 38.66 points last season against Phoenix with mostly Hill guarding him, NBA StatsCube shows a huge difference in Bryant’s shooting percentage per 36 minutes when Hill’s on the court (47%) and on the bench (80%). In other words, Bryant relishes scoring at such a prolific rate when he’s challenged along the way from a contemporary.
Remember, Hill entered the league in the 1994-95 season with the Detroit Pistons touted as the next Michael Jordan. He appeared in FILA and Sprite Commercials. Hill displayed an array of athleticism and versatility as he averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.2 assists through his first six seasons. . He handled the hype with a dignity that still remains noticeable to this day.
That nearly came crashing down when he had ankle and hernia injuries that sidelined him for significant time in four seasons with Orlando. But Hill keeps fighting through it. he underwent successful surgery on his right knee last season and reportedly underwent a similar platelet enrichment procedure on his knee that Bryant had last summer. Hill’s sat out the last two weeks during the Clippers’ preseason to rest his sore knees. The Daily News’ Ellliott Teaford reported Hill has worked out in a pool in order to avoid the stress of running and jumping.
“The main thing is the mindset that I’m not going to accept I’m older and I can’t do things,” Hill said. “I’m not going to accept that. You know there are certain things you can’t do. But there are still certain things you can.”
Hill then pointed to his head.
“It starts up here,” he said.
As a result, Hill has averaged 12.07 points per game through five seasons with Phoenix.
“That’s incredible to have the toughness and ability to keep going,” Nash said of Hill. “He’s still a terrific player. I think that gets lost sometimes in the fact that everyone says he’s nearly 40. But he’s still a terrific player.”
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