Grant Long explains the one area Grant Hill was ahead of LeBron James coming into NBA
Grant Hill is only one day away from being enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, and along with it are the memories of grandeur that emanate from his early days as the star of the Detroit Pistons. His teammate Grant Long, still remembers his natural gift for the game, claiming his feel for it was superior than LeBron James’ upon breaking into the league.
Hill was a great all-around player, but he certainly had some deficiencies, just like James did, but Long noted Hill’s maturity and ability to discern good from great made him such a coveted talent.
He was often turning down opportunities, knowing others around them could perform better if put in that position.
“He was just so secure in his own skin,” Grant Long said, according to James Edward III of The Athletic. “One day, Coach wanted him to take a 3-point shot, and I vividly remember him saying, ‘No, Terry Mills is a better 3-point shooter.’ He didn’t have a problem saying that because he understood where his game was and where he was effective.”
“Think of how many things LeBron goes through. They always say he passes too much. They say, ‘Why would he defer to another player when he’s so good?’ Well, Grant Hill was the king of that. He understood when there was someone better than him at something.… He recognized his own talent, and he never tried to do too much. He did what he was capable of, which was more than enough.”
It might have been the four years worth of schooling that had Hill so comfortable in his own skin, and willing to prioritize the team over his own success that made him savvily able to recognize these things and not force bad shots, even as a rookie.
Hill’s and James’ rookie year numbers are eerily similar, with Hill being a better rebounder, thief, and vastly more efficient from the field, a skill LeBron James wouldn’t acquire until his second year in the league.