Will Darko ever become a starter for the Magic?
Will Darko ever become a starter for the Magic?
A nice article about GH33. Found this somewhere on GA.Net.
Bounce to his step
Ian Thomsen, SI.com
"Why do you play ball?" a rival high school player from New York asked Grant Hill at the Five-Star camp in Pennsylvania almost two decades ago.
"What do you mean?" Hill recalls answering.
"Your parents live in a mansion," the player said. "We're playing ball so we can eat. We're playing ball to get out of the 'hood."
He was like a prince born and raised to athletic royalty. The only child of loving parents, the son of noble running back Calvin Hill. Basketball always seemed to come easy to Grant Hill. That was the complaint.
"It was always: 'You come from this perceived wealth, you don't have that drive,'" says Hill. "I had to fight even harder just to prove that I had it."
Finally Hill is understanding why he drove himself past the breaking point in 2000 that led to a half-dozen surgeries, and why he continues to drive himself today. His best years are gone, the $93 million contract that he signed with the Orlando Magic is to expire this spring, and at 34 he's at least 10 years older than his young teammates who represent the future of the Orlando Magic. Yet Hill stubbornly persists. He is putting up 15.6 points, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals, and only Dwight Howard is playing more minutes than the 31.6 that Hill has managed in 14 games for the best team in the East.
"Most people would have quit," Magic GM Otis Smith says.
"It's really inspirational to see the resolve that this guy has after so many years of setbacks," Magic coach Brian Hill says."How he comes into work every day, how he approaches practices, how he approaches games -- and he does feel like he wants to go out and prove that he's still a quality player in this league."
The same need to prove himself inspired Hill while growing up in Reston, Va. "To me it was always foolish to think that you don't have a drive or a love or a passion for the game because you came from an upper middle-class environment," he says. "It's funny, but my game -- attacking the basket, going to the rim -- was more of a street game. I grew up in the suburbs but I was always like, I'm going to cross you up, I'm going to get respect and come down the lane and dunk on you so we can dispel that whole thing. My game was crossing somebody over, getting to the basket -- very much a city game, but I didn't grow up in the city."
The need to prove himself deepened after he left Duke in 1994 as the No. 3 pick of the bluecollar Detroit Pistons. The city was still in love with the championship "Bad Boys" of the Isiah Thomas era when Hill arrived as the unexpected Nice Guy from the right side of the tracks.
"Isiah was always a great player, a great leader, he was from Chicago and considered this tough kid, and I felt the perception that I didn't fit with the image of the city. So it was always comparing me to Isiah, and Isiah would have played through this or that, Isiah sprained his ankle and went out and scored (25) against the Lakers in Game 6," says Hill, referring to Thomas' outrageous third quarter in the 1988 NBA Finals.
So when Hill felt something go wrong in his ankle in the 2000 playoffs, he kept trying to play. He was about to become a free agent and leave Detroit to sign with Orlando. It turned out that an interior bone of the left ankle was broken.
"Despite what's been reported before, I was told by the doctor that I was OK, that I could go," Hill says. "It wasn't a situation where he said, 'Sit down,' and I said, 'No, I'm going to play.'
"Saying that, I think you're probably right. Maybe there's something to that, this constantly feeling, like, you've got to prove it. Maybe that's part of what's pushed me and motivated me the last six years, it was just to constantly prove that I can overcome or that I can play with pain.
"I know Isiah didn't play on a broken ankle."
Though his free-agent contract with the Magic was fully guaranteed for seven years, Hill continued trying to come back from each surgery as well as the related 2003 staph infection that might have killed him. When a sports hernia cost him 61 games last season, he refused a seventh operation in favor of rehabbing the injury. Before each game he can now be seen working up a sweat in the trainer's room performing 20 minutes worth of exercises to warm his core muscles.
Yet he plays nothing like a 34-year-old who is broken down physically or spiritually. He still bursts into space and probes defensive weaknesses as intelligently as any wing in the league. Instead of bitterness or fear there is a bounce to his step, his eyes are wide, and he makes the clever passes and delicate little jump shots that turn spectators into fans.
"It doesn't hurt. The ankle itself has been great," Hill says. "There are some things I notice that are different, because of the tilt they [surgeons] put in my foot and the orthotics I wear that are tilting me even further. There are certain moves that are not where I'd like it to be, so I'm maybe not as efficient or as comfortable as I was in the past -- but I'm able to still go out and do it, and that's a good thing."
When he comes home from practice or a game, he realizes the larger purpose his career is serving. His wife, Tamia Hill, a four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist, revealed in 2005 that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"I think we've helped each other," Hill says. "I had a scary moment there with my ankle, but if it doesn't work out, if the ankle breaks down or the stomach breaks down [from the hernia], I retire. And as hard as that might be there's still a lot of other things I'd like to do, a lot of life to live. With what my wife has, it's a little bit different, it's not as easy as that.
"She has shared with me that just watching me go through what I've been through, my optimism, my attitude -- OK, I have this, how do I deal with it, I'm going to fight it, I'm going to overcome it ... I'm a glass is half-full; maybe she's more of a glass is half-empty. We've sort of tried to balance each other out. I refuse to let her feel sorry for herself.
"Who knows what our relationship would be like if the injury and illness had never occurred. It's forced us to lean on each other, more so than you'd ever thought we could."
Hill is in no hurry to retire. This might be the most enjoyable group of teammates he's ever known in the NBA, and he likes his role of leading them without having to carry them statistically. His body is ironically fresh thanks to the 357 games he missed over the previous half-dozen years. "I have a 45-year-old ankle but I have 30-year-old legs," he says. "I feel like I've given my body a break for five or six years, so I'm sort of itching to play.
"One thing I've had to realize is that now that I'm back playing, I can't judge myself on what I was in the past. There's still that urge to do things that I did in Detroit, but I had to realize that I'm different now and that's not a bad thing -- not good or bad, just different. My mindset for so long was to go out and try to do everything. What I've been through injury-wise and with my age, it's probably a good thing that I don't have that mindset, that I don't have to come in and save the day."
Instead of complaining about the Hall-of-Fame future that was taken from him, and instead of worrying about the next thing that might go wrong, he is simply enjoying every night in the gym. If he had never been injured, if he had fulfilled his potential as a player alongside Tracy McGrady in Orlando, would that have made him a better person than he is today? That's the question he asks when he begins to feel sorry for himself.
"I didn't necessarily like the way I was portrayed early in my career, like I was a little bit holier than thou," he admits. "First of all, I exploited that, so I can't totally complain. But there were a few articles written that put me in a light or painted me in a picture that I was better than everybody. It made me uncomfortable.
"This," he says of his plague of injuries, "is something that has been a test. With my teammates and the public, I think it makes me look a little bit more human. I just think that going through this and being tested in a very public way, people can identify with that more. There's been a lot of good, I think: Understanding what's important, understanding in life that you always try to feel like you're more of a complete individual, and that there's more to life than putting a ball through a basket -- these last six years have really forced me to realize that. At the end of the day you want to make the most of your career, and you'd like the Hall of Fame and numbers and championships and all the things that everyone dreams of. But there are lessons and values from the game that you can learn, that can help you grow, help you be a better person. I've definitely learned that these last six years.
"This may sound crazy, but if I look at when I was healthy and at the top of my game and in my prime years at Detroit, and where I am now as a human being as a result of all the injuries and the adversity? I'd take who I am now. I like who I am as a result of going through that."
I may not be a fan of the Magic... but I'm a big fan of Dwight Howard, the reigning East Player of the Month... he is just a monster
Talo sila sa LA Slippers.
Pero OK lang, panalo naman sila sa Queens.
Orlando Magic: The New Beast of The East!!
im rooting for magic bec. of grant hill and dwight howard!
Found the lost Orlando Magic thread..XD
Haha good find. Asan na si GOJ?
anyway..great win by the Magic earlier against the Bulls..XD
Sa wakas! Labas na mga Magic fans!
Great win even without Turk and JRich!
lol GoJ bistado kala ko laker fan since magic days yan
My 2nd favorite team (as long as Dwight is playing)
If this is true, then it's good for the Magic whether Dwight stays or not. If he leaves, they still get a young star in return that they can build around. Too bad Anderson is part of the deal though
^ aw. Kasama si redick? Reliable na sixth man and a hard-working player. Sayang naman.
lol'ed at the previous posts.
D-Ho commits to Orlando for one more season.
Do the Magic have cap space this off-season? Maybe they can land D-Will.