Kobe Bryant and Grant Hill: What Is, and What Could Have Been

Watching Grant Hill's performance in the third quarter of the Suns' Game Two loss to the Lakers was similar to traveling back in time, revisiting a player who once had the potential to be legendary.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant delivered a pretty good third quarter, himself, in Game One.

But Bryant's performance is expected.

Hill will never attain that type of legendary status due to a career devastated by injuries.

While attending Duke University, Hill was generally considered one of the most talented, athletic, and intelligent players in the entire nation. His long, successful NBA career was a given.

Hill won back-to-back national championships at Duke in 1991 and 1992. And, although he played alongside teammate Christian Laettner, largely viewed as college basketball's top player at the time, Hill was perceived to be the better pro prospect.

Hill didn't disappoint.

He shared NBA Rookie of the Year honors with Jason Kidd in 1995, and was the first rookie in NBA history to lead all players in All-Star fan voting.

One could argue that Hill was LeBron James first. He averaged 20 points, 9.8 rebounds, and seven assists in only his second professional season with the Detroit Pistons.

Hill had several more spectacular years with the Pistons. He was one of those rare talents who impacted a game just as much on the defensive end of the floor as he did with the ball in his hands.

He was voted an all-NBA defender several times, and it seemed nothing could prevent Hill from reaching the pinnacle of greatness.

Unfortunately, fate had other plans.

Near the end of the 1999-2000 season, Hill injured his ankle and was forced to terminate his season two games into a playoff series against the Miami Heat. Team doctors later confirmed Hill's worst fears. His ankle was broken.

This ankle injury started a cruel pattern, which saw...

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