Grant Hill looked likely to become an NBA superstar and finish his career as one of the greatest players of all time. Despite still having a hall of fame career, Grant Hill still did not completely fulfil his incredible potential.
What injury ended Grant Hill’s career? It was consistent ankle injuries that required multiple surgeries that effectively ended Grant Hill’s career and stunted his potential in the NBA.
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In the 1990s, Michael Jordan was tearing up the NBA. But fans knew that this would not last forever as he reached his mid to late 30s. Fans were quickly looking for his replacement and it seemed like Detroit Pistons guard Grant Hill could have been that player.
Hill was the most well rounded player in the NBA behind Jordan, having been drafted third overall in the 1994 draft. He was co Rookie of the Year in 1995 alongside Jason Kidd. Hill built on his early promise with the Pistons and was becoming an all-around player, often leading his team in points, rebounds and assists.
These good performances could not lift the Pistons past the first round of the playoffs however. But this looked to change as Hill entered into his final season with the Pistons. Having been consistently around the 21 points per game mark, this rose to 25.8 in the 1999-2000 season.
Hill would become a five time all star in 2000 as his Pistons were hoping to progress past the first round for the first time since 1991. However, it looked like this could be improbable when Hill sprained his ankle seven days before the start of the playoffs.
Despite the injury, Hill continued to play and started in the first round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. The injured ankle only got worse and Hill had to leave halfway through game 2. Without their superstar, the Pistons were swept 3-0, with Hill being unable to play for the US team in the 2000 Olympics.
While it appeared to just be a sprained ankle when the injury happened, this would develop into the injury that killed Grant Hill’s career. In that 2000 offseason, he signed a seven year deal with the Orlando Magic to partner Tracy McGrady. It seemed like it could’ve been an incredible partnership.
But it was the ankle injury which continued to hamper Hill’s career. The issue was that Hill continued to play on his injured ankle in that 2000 playoffs. The other issue with the injury was that the Detroit Pistons medical team initially diagnosed it as only a bone bruise, allowing Hill to continue playing.
In that playoff series against the Heat, Hill’s ankle injury was only getting worse as he was playing through severe pain. He eventually broke the same injured ankle as it had not been diagnosed properly.
It made the injury so much worse for Hill and his time in Orlando was awful. In his first two seasons with the Magic, Hill only played 18 games, meaning he missed a total of 162 games across his first two seasons.
The injury got so bad that in March of 2003, Hill was going to undergo a major surgical procedure to re-fracture his ankle so that it can be correctly realigned with the leg bone to hopefully fix the injury. Five days after the surgery, Hill developed a fever and doctors discovered he had contracted MRSA.
MRSA is an infection which is potentially fatal, often contracted in hospital. It hospitalised Hill for a week and he had to take antibiotics for six months after the incident. It was a horrible experience that was another consequence of the misdiagnosed ankle injury from 2000.
Despite contracting MRSA, the surgery of Hill’s injured ankle seemed to work as he played 67 games in the 2004/05 season and was voted back to the eastern conference all star team. His Magic missed the playoffs, but it was a comeback season for Hill after consistent injuries.
Grant Hill would play out his time with the Magic, but his ankle injury once again caused more issues. His running style put more balance on his right foot, to avoid putting pressure on the injured left ankle. It was so bad that Hill developed a sports Hernia that required surgery.
His last season with the Orlando Magic finished with another playoff appearance but Hill was still hampered with left ankle injuries. The incredible thing about Grant Hill’s injury was his time with the Phoenix Suns. After leaving the Magic in 2007, Hill was traded to the Suns where he would spend five seasons.
Despite being over the age of 33 when he was traded to the Suns, Hill’s best spell health wise was with the Phoenix Suns. He played 82 games in his second season with the Phoenix Suns and became a good role player with the Suns throughout the twilight of his career.
It was a real shame to see because it showed just how good Grant Hill could have been if it was not for the consistent injuries. Despite all of his talent, it took Hill 15 years to get past the first round of the playoffs which he did with the Suns when they reached the conference finals in 2010, where the Suns lost to the Lakers.
Hill was pursued by the Los Angeles Clippers after his contract with the Suns expired, but he got a bone bruise in his right knee which kept him out of the first three months of the season. Hill soon announced his retirement and still managed to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame in 2018.
It was not the career he had been looking for. While the misdiagnosed ankle injury in 2000 had not immediately ended his career, Grant Hill was nowhere near the same player after the injury and he consistently was kept out due to injuries coming from the sprained ankle in 2000, even leading to him contracting MRSA.