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Sports Biz Q&A: Grant Hill Reflects on All-Star Weekend, the Future of His Art Collection and Why He Worries About Jabari Parker

Photo courtesy of Turner Sports. During the span of his playing career, Grant Hill was among the most respected figures in the NBA: a thoughtful, cerebral talent who just so happened to be one of the league’s most versatile swingmen. Hill, 41, retired last year. And for all of the league’s observers who saw Hill as the perfect fit for a front-office position, Hill is fast becoming one of the NBA’s most visible TV analysts. Between appearances on NBA TV’s Game Time , TNT’s Inside the NBA and as co-host of Inside Stuff , Hill has gotten plenty of practice in front of the camera. It’s a good thing: among other duties all weekend in New Orleans, he and Chris Webber will be embedded on both team’s benches next Sunday as a kind of reporting 13th man. Look out, D.A . Hill spoke to BlackEnterprise.com via phone from Atlanta on a recent weeknight. We asked him to give himself a grade on his performance so far, his favorite All-Star moment as a player and about Duke star Jabari Parker. He told us why, exactly, he worries about him at times. B.E. Sports Biz: How are you? Thanks for agreeing to chat with us. Hill: I’m great, thanks for having me be a part of it. Is there one All-Star Game that means the most to you? It was probably my last one in 2005. Really? I had been hurt for four years. It really was questionable whether I’d play again but I was able to fight back after missing a good portion of those seasons. I had a good year that year and I was voted in. I had to fight and really battle to get back to playing, so that made making it in very gratifying. Was that in Denver? Yep, Denver. But they all were great. The first one was awesome. I was kind of riding high at that point. After things got kind of dicey with the uncertainty around my health and my career, to be able to fight back, make the All-Star game and play in it … makes it the one that will stick out the most for me. What’s your favorite moment from the game? I remember I caught an alley-oop. Wade threw me an alley-oop and I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be able to go up and get it . [Laughs.] My wife did the Canadian National Anthem. But really just to be back in that All-Star locker room was special. To be on that stage, I knew the amount of effort it took to make it happen. It was important for me to absorb it all and just be very appreciative. You’ll be quite busy, what are you looking forward to most about All-Star weekend this year? Well I’m coming at it from a different angle because I’ll be working. So there will be stress but not the stress of being a player where you have to balance making all of your appearances, but also making sure that you’re getting all your rest and handling your commitments. There’s just a lot going on. But I’m happy I’ll be close to the action talking about the game and doing our various shows. I’m excited. It’s your first year doing television and you guys are notorious for being hard on yourselves — what kind of a grade would you give yourself? It’s interesting because I’m doing Inside the NBA, Game Time, Inside Stuff and they’re all kind of different animals. Inside the NBA is chaotic. [Laughs.] There’s a lot going on and there’s no rhyme or reason. Game Time is four hours where you’re really inside the games going into the details. Inside Stuff is more about the players and off-the-court topics. I’m not good at grades — I just continue to work hard and get better. I feel I’m getting more and more comfortable, it’s just all about getting reps. Inside Stuff was gone for so many years and now it’s back. Why is now the right time for its return? Since it first aired the world has changed so much. Social media has given everyone a platform but especially NBA ballplayers. Fans want access. They want to know more about their guys. I think the show allows for us to go in-depth with the personalities, the off-court interests away from the court with the players that fans love. I think there’s a trust factor, too. A lot of these kids [playing now] grew up watching it. So they know that it’s going to be positive and showcase them. It’s been well-received and I think it was needed to show that side of the players that I saw a player for 19 years. It’s about the fans just really taking us into their lives whether we’re in the locker room, in our cars or at home or a restaurant. On a personal level, sitting down with guys — I interviewed Kevin Durant this past week — and having the the opportunity to get to know them myself has been really enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot but I’ve also enjoyed it. What have you learned about this new generation of players? I’m not that far removed since I was playing last year. I have a sense of today’s generation of player since I was in the locker room with these guys. With interviewing guys … a guy like K.G., we’ve competed and said ‘what’s up’ here and there, but to get to sit down with and ask him questions and hear what he has to say was cool. It was cool as a fan of the game and as a fan of his. It was a lot of fun to share the moment on TV. That’s been true with the Kevin Loves and Kevin Durants of the world as well. As for the young guys it’s a different generation. These guys have grown up in a different time with a different set of experiences. I don’t judge and say, ‘Our generation was better’ — I embrace the differences, and I certainly saw them during my last six or seven years in the league as younger players were coming in. A lot of them just had a different attitude and mindset. That’s good! That’s OK. Each generation should be different. What did young players ask you about? You must get a lot of questions from young players since so many of them grew up with you and your generation. When I played with guys they’d ask me questions like what it was like to play against certain guys and what the league was like back in the 90s. Some guys asked questions about how to take care of yourself. It was good because I felt like I had a wealth of knowledge and experiences that I wanted to share. When you’re with these guys everyday you establish relationships. Now, I’m with a bunch of my contemporaries. I’m with Shaq, Steve Smith, Kenny Smith. It’s a little bit different. I had Otis Thorpe and Joe Dumars to absorb as much information as I possibility could. And as fan I wanted to know what it was like for them to go against the guys they used to play against. So it was great to be a position like that my last few years in the league. What are your thoughts on the new uniforms ? I’m a traditionalist and I like the way things have been, but I understand. From what I’ve been told the t-shirt look potentially sells more than the tank tops. I wouldn’t be surprised if in five years every team was wearing these shirts for every game. The thinking is, the tank top is kind of only worn by basketball fans, but a t-shirt can be worn in a variety of different ways. Times change and I’ve learned you’ve got to kind of roll with it and embrace those changes. It may take some time for everyone to get used to, though. What’s guiding your principles in terms of what you’re doing outside of the game like with your real estate and art ventures? Well, there are a lot that you can take from sports. I think having a strong work ethic is important. Setting goals. Being disciplined and having personal responsibility — and even learning to work well with others. It’s just values that take and apply elsewhere in business, real estate, finance things that we’re doing with our Equity Mezzanine Fund . There’s so much that I’ve taken from the wealth of my experiences playing ball and it’s just that I’m using them in a different way. The parallels are interesting. What’s up next for you and your wife’s fine African American art collection ? I don’t know! We had a tour about 10 years ago where we visited about eight different cities where we had it on exhibit. It was well-received and it brought more attention to the genre of African American art. But we haven’t really decided in terms of what we want to do next. I’m not sure if it’s going to be another tour or if we want to loan some pieces out. We have a lot of pieces at our home and we have a lot that’s in storage. Of course, ultimately great art is meant to be seen by others. But my wife and I have to figure it out what we’ll do next. But since the last tour we’ve added to it. It’s increased in size It’s a fun hobby for us and we enjoy supporting great artists as well buying and enjoying pieces that we like. How is she doing? Good! She’s great. She’s in the studio close to done with her next album. She’s staying busy. She had an album out a year ago and she was nominated for a Grammy. She’s doing well, working hard. Someone in the family has to work. [Laughs.] So she’s doing it for us. I wanted to ask you about Jabari Parker. The rumor now is he might not come out for the draft next year to play with his good friend Jahlil Okafor. What’s your perception on his situation and do you think he’d be making the right decision to make the leap to the NBA? Well, I think it’s premature right now to speculate. I don’t know what was said. I’m sure his family is saying that he’s not thinking about it and that he’s just focusing on playing and there’s a possibility he may stay. In all of it, he’s having a good time. I think he’s enjoying himself and that he’s fully invested in his team. The idea of what’s in the future — I don’t think he’s anywhere close to even thinking about that. I think he’s focused on improving and that he wants to do well with his team. When the time is right I think he’ll sit down and evaluate things and make a list of the pros and cons. You know, he’s a smart kid. He’s got a really good family and I think whatever decision he makes it’ll be the best decision for him. I think it’s refreshing. I heard even prior to this last week or so that he really enjoys his time as a student-athlete. It’s good to have those types of decisions. [Laughs.] Maybe not the easiest decision, but it’s good to be in that position and that’s a credit to what he’s been able to do throughout his career. Do you ever get nervous for him? To me you guys have somewhat similar backgrounds, coming from really good, supportive families. You also have similar size, too. I think what I worry about is that so much is asked of him as a freshman. I think the luxury I had was that I had older players that I played with. It was just a different time. There were guys on my teams who were All-Americans and were older. So there wasn’t any pressure on me to be the best player and lead the team. I think because of his talent the expectation is that he’s expected to be that person right now. Back then you were allowed to evolve and learn from the upperclassmen. I worry about that, but he seems to be handling himself well. He’s a good kid, talented and he wants to play well and wants to win. Plus, he’s in good hands down there. So I think he’ll be OK.

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Sports Biz Q&A: Grant Hill Reflects on All-Star Weekend, the Future of His Art Collection and Why He Worries About Jabari Parker

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