Updated Jun 3, 2013 - 4:06 pm
Grant Hill and Jason Kidd: Two former Phoenix Suns who will be forever linked
It was appropriate that Grant Hill and Jason Kidd both retired days apart. Their careers have been intertwined and relatable in different ways since the early 1990s.
In 1993, the California Golden Bears upset the defending champion Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Cal was led by a freshman point guard by the name of Jason Kidd, who scored 11 points and dished out 14 assists. Hill scored 18 points for Duke that day.
Kidd was selected second by the Dallas Mavericks and Grant Hill third by the Detroit Pistons in the 1994 draft. The two ended up splitting the Rookie of the Year award.
Both players spent part of their careers as elite players at their position and transformed into successful role players, something that a lot of NBA players refuse to do.
Don't let anyone tell you Hill wasn't at one time an elite player on his way to being an all-time great. Here are his numbers from his first six seasons before suffering a career-changing ankle injury:
The only other players in NBA history to match Hill's +21 points per game, seven rebounds, six assists and 45% shooting or better?
That's right - Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Larry Bird.
While Hill came in as a more developed finished product, Kidd's game took time to grow. The vision and smarts were always there, but his game was incomplete without the threat of a shot. Through his first 10 years, Kidd shot .325 from three-point range. In his final nine years .Kidd was a .369 shooter from behind the arc.
Both players also spent time with the Phoenix Suns.
Kidd was the centerpiece of some good, but not great teams in Phoenix. They won 50 games three times, but the farthest they advanced in the playoffs was the second round.
Hill was an excellent role player, helping Phoenix get within two games of an NBA Finals appearance in 2009-10. His time with the Suns will be remembered for his value as a lockdown defender. He guarded everyone from Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin to Dirk Nowitzki and he did it damn well, too.
They each were integral parts to the Suns' success.
It was an honor and a joy to watch the careers of Jason Kidd and Grant Hill unfold. I look forward to the day they are both inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Maybe they will even get to share another special moment together.
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