In the end, Hill will be known as a guy who loved basketball and embodies the high points and potential pitfalls of playing pro sports. When you think of Hill, you think of class.
"I'm glad to say I'm done," Hill said. "I'm officially retired, moving on from playing. I had a great run. I'm announcing it now. … I've been hinting at it the last few years. You get to a point where you just don't want to do it anymore but I've enjoyed it. I've loved it."
If Hill didn’t genuinely love the game he could have never stayed in the NBA for two decades. He spent the first 10 as player who most felt would end up as a Top 25 guy all-time. His contemporaries are guys like Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady and Larry Johnson, who had Hall of Fame talent but Len Bias luck.
After winning two national championships at Duke, Hill's burgeoning NBA career was curtailed because of ankle injuries that limited him to 47 games with the Orlando Magic over four seasons from 2000-04. He only played in four games in 2000-01 and missed the 2003-04 season.
After he came back from surgeries he changed his game. He lost the explosiveness and quickness that made him an unprecedented talent, but he still had the I.Q., heart and humility to face the realities of his deficiencies and still be an above average, contributing NBA player. He transformed from an athletically superior point forward, racking up triple doubles to a role player, glue guy, in Phoenix.
Hill’s popularity was also heightened by the fact that he was a brother playing on a predominantly white Duke team that was an enemy to fans of more “hood-friendly” squads like Michigan. His ability to blend in with Duke and show America the diverse cultural orientations of young black men, also made him a polarizing figure. One that ESPN analyst and former Michigan star Jalen Rose felt was an “Uncle Tom,” as Rose so blatantly accused in the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary on the Fab Five.
It doesn’t hurt that he is the son of Hillary Clinton’s college roommate and a former NFL football player. The fact that he’s married to Tamia, one of the hottest RnB singers in the world, boosts his stock a straight G as well.
Hill finishes his career with averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals in 33.9 minutes per game. Most of all, he is an example of the purity of basketball. When his superstar status had expired, his love for the game kept him relevant and made him a memorable figure in NBA history.