Should Grant Hill have his jersey retired with the Pistons? He thinks so

The Detroit Pistons have been criticized for not being very selective about whose jersey they retire.

On one hand, jersey retirement is usually only reserved for those who are held in basketball lore across the entire NBA. On the other hand, the Pistons can retire whatever player’s jersey they want because it’s something specific to their organization, and if the rest of the league doesn’t like it, they can kick rocks.

One interesting name that is not only sure to bring league wide debate, but debate among Pistons fans as well is Grant Hill.

Hill was the face of the Pistons during the ‘teal’ era of 1994-2000, and was dubbed as the next great superstar. Hill was drafted third overall by the Pistons in the 1994 NBA Draft after a stellar college career at Duke University, where he helped lead the Blue Devils to two national championships in four years.

He lived up to the billing immediately, averaging 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.77 steals per game during his rookie season, and shared the 1994 Rookie of the Year Award with Jason Kidd. In his sophomore season in Detroit, Hill took it to another level averaging 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. The first and still only player since Hall of Famer Larry Bird to average 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in a single season. Hill led the league in triple doubles and finished third in NBA MVP voting.

Hill spent six seasons in Detroit and averaged a remarkable 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game, but his team never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Hill has the fourth highest scoring average in team history; seventh-highest assists average, and the second-best player efficiency rating (22.4).

Where it gets tricky for Hill however is the lack of playoff success his team’s had. The Pistons never advanced passed the first round of the playoffs during his six-year stint in Detroit, and his best contribution to the team may have been his departure, when the Pistons completed a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic to ship out Hill, and get back future four-time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace, whose jersey is retired by the team, and longtime backup Chucky Atkins.

There’s really no argument that Grant Hill isn’t one of the greatest players in team history, but should the team’s lack of success during his run prevent his jersey from being hung in the rafters? He certainly doesn’t think so.

“That was always something that you would look up there during the national anthem and think ‘Man, one day I would love to be up there,'” Hill said. “Obviously, things change and what not by leaving and so on. But I’ll put my six years up there up against anybody else’s six years.”

Hill is probably right. If you’re drafting an all time Pistons team featuring 8-10 players, there’s no way you’re leaving Hill off. If it so happens that the team decides to leave Hill off the roof of the Palace, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be harboring any ill will.

“So if it’s meant to be, it happens. But if not, it doesn’t change how I feel about the place not one bit.” Hill said.

How exactly does Hill feel about Detroit?

“When I go to Detroit, it conjures up a lot of great memories….. I think the thing that I enjoyed and maybe fully didn’t appreciate is there is a sense of pride up there in Michigan, particularly in Detroit. The city obviously has been through a lot, but when I was there it was a pride about Detroit and anything from Detroit….. To be a public figure, to be a celebrity, and to be a part of that pride, I could feel it, and it was genuine love and appreciation. Wherever I was, in the suburbs or in the city, there is just a love for the Pistons, Red Wings and Lions.” Hill said.

The jerseys currently retired by the team belong to the likes of Joe Dumars (4), Isiah Thomas (11), Vinnie Johnson (15), Chauncey Billups (1), Ben Wallace (3), Dennis Rodman (10), Bob Lanier (16), Dave Bing (21), Bill Laimbeer (40), former head coach Chuck Daly (2), and ex-owner William Davidson and general manager Jack McCloskey all have banners raised at The Palace.

Does Hill deserve to be next?