This is a bit of a sad post, highlighting what could have been.
On January 5, 2000, the Detroit Pistons (16-14) found themselves in a tight battle with the Atlanta Hawks (11-19). While Isaiah Rider had a team-high 27 for the Hawks, it wasn’t enough. Two days in a row featuring the Pistons? Stackhouse is here, too! Stack had 28 in this game, Christian Laettner added 23 and 12 rebounds, but that’s not the point here.
Grant Hill. Once considered the next Jordan. Once a triple-double machine. On this night, he led a 33-21 fourth-quarter charge to defeat the Hawks, 120-108. On the night, he scored 42 on 14-23 from the field (1-1 from downtown!) and 13-15 from the line, chipping in six assists as well. Just standard fare for Hill back in the day.
Then, the wheels started coming off. Four months later, on April 15, Hill sprained his left ankle while facing the Philadelphia 76ers. He’d heard the tag “soft,” and didn’t want to disappoint the fans, so seven days later, he was starting in Game 1 against the Miami Heat. His ankle worsened, and he was forced to leave Game 2 after 21 minutes. The last minutes he would play in a Pistons uniform.
On August 3, he was involved in a sign-and-trade, landing with the Orlando Magic, while the Pistons received Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace in the deal. It looks extremely one-sided at the time, and Orlando was poised to make a run at the championship with Hill on their side.
He started the first four games of the season for the Magic, before injuries took over the majority of his six-year tenure in Orlando.