Grant Hill: "I'm not thinking about the ankle anymore"
Are you ready to go?
Grant Hill: I’m ready. I’m excited. And quite honestly, if I didn’t think I could play and I didn’t think I could beat this and play a whole season, then I wouldn’t put myself through this. It’s not worth it. I believe I can still play and I know there are people who might read this and say, 'Man that guy is crazy.' Only time will tell. If we get to January and we are talking about my points and my production instead of my ankle, then we know that I was able to overcome it.
Can you compare your ankle how it feels right now, versus how it felt before you got hurt the first time?
GH: Oh wow (laughs). So much has happened since then. It’s hard to remember, but I know this, I haven’t had to sit out any games or missed any practices or anything. I haven’t had to ice it or anything. The main thing is, I feel good and I'm not thinking about the ankle anymore. I think in the past maybe I was thinking about it, preventing me from doing some things, going to my right or to my left. Now I am just thinking about competing and doing the things to help my team win.
What will be your role on the team this year?
GH: I don’t know. Honestly, I have no idea. Whatever coach wants, whatever he asks of me I will do the best I can to fulfill it.
Will your style of play change at all this season?
GH: No, not at all. I’m a little older, a little wiser, but I’m still going to attack the basket. I’m still gonna push it, and I’m still going to go to the hole and get to the free-throw line. That’s not going to change. I’m just going to play my game, but hopefully be a little bit more mature out there on the court and being able to pick and choose my spots. But as far as changing my game because of the surgeries, that won’t happen.
Talk about your play this preseason.
GH: I think as a team we’ve played real well. We’ve executed and played well together. We are definitely taking a step in the right direction. As for me, it’s been good. I’m just out there trying to get my timing. It could be better, but I am just looking to get better and better every game.
We are almost to the start of the season. How is the team coming together with all the new faces?
GH: I think we are doing well. We have nine new guys – 11 if you count Pat and myself – from last year's team, and we are learning a new system so it's challenging at times, but it’s also rewarding to see that moments in practice and in the game, when it does come together. And it looks pretty good. We have New Orleans and opening night coming up soon, and we just want to keep getting better and better every day so that when opening night comes we will be ready to go.
GH: I think he’s great. And I think its going to help him that he won’t have to carry the load. We some talented guys here in Steve, Cuttino, Hedo, and so on. But, he’s really come in and provided a spark for us and provided us with a presence in the middle. He is super smart with the ball, he has a great basketball IQ. And I think he’s learning everyday what he can do and what he can get away with. He’s gonna be a great, great player. And he’s gonna be a great, great player soon.
How about the team’s other first-round pick, what will Jameer Nelson provide the team with this year?
GH: Toughness, maturity, leadership. He’s a solid player, and even though he’s a young guy you sense he’s experienced and knows how to lead a team. And when we go to him off the bench, he can carry a team. We expect big things from him and Dwight Howard.
Do you want to play a lot minutes for this team and are you ready for that?
GH: Yeah. I mean, yeah, any player likes to play. And I enjoy being out there and I enjoy competing. I look forward to it. That’s what I want, I’ve done enough sitting (laughs) so yeah, I look forward to getting out there playing.
What does this team need to do better to be a playoff team this season?
GH: We need to stay healthy (laughs). We need to play better defense and just come together as a team. We have so many new faces and just need to develop a rotation and chemistry.
Mike Tuck is a producer/on-air talent for 740 The Team in Orlando and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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