During the season, Grant Hill always left himself an opening. He didn’t feel he was quite ready to retire, but he never said for sure if he was going to ask his body for one more season.
Turns out he didn’t have one more. Hill, who played the last of his 18 NBA seasons with Clippers but appeared in just 29 regular-season games, announced his retirement during TNT’s pregame broadcast before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
He was in the NBA for 19 years, starting in the 1994-95 season, but played 18 seasons — having sat out the entire 2003-04 campaign with an ankle injury.
Hill, 40, was a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons in 1994 and also had stints with Orlando and Phoenix before the Clippers signed him as a free agent last July. His debut with the team, however, was delayed until January because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
In a statement issued by the team, Clippers vice president of basketball operations Gary Sacks said, “The entire Clippers organization wants to congratulate Grant on an incredible career. For 19 years, Grant has always been the embodiment of class, a true professional and not only one of the best players — but one of the finest individuals I have been around. We were fortunate to have Grant with us last season, and we wish him all the best in his next endeavor.”
The 6-foot-8 Hill finished with averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He was considered one of the game’s most versatile players, but injuries, including several to his left ankle, continually slowed him. He missed the entire 2003-04 season with the Magic while rehabilitating his ankle.
Even so, he was a seven-time NBA all-star selection and was named to the all-NBA first team in 1997. He was also a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal in Atlanta.
Hill probably will be best remembered for helping Duke win consecutive national titles in 1991 and 1992.
On Saturday, Hill told USA Today, “The last four or five years I would take about a month (to decide whether to continue) and within a month, if I still wanted to do it, I would. Putting it simply, after a month, I just realized I didn’t want to play anymore. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but you know when you know. It just felt right. I’m excited and looking forward to moving on and doing other things.”
Hill was a sporadic contributor for the Clippers during the regular season, averaging 15 minutes per game. He played 20 minutes in the first game of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, finishing with four points and four rebounds, but it was his only postseason appearance.