TO: Grant Hill The Deliberating Superstar c/o The Detroit Pistons
I trust this letter finds you well, at least as well as a man can be three days after ankle surgery. While you were in the hospital, did you remember to avoid the Jell-O? I’m sure you did. You’ve always been smart.
Which brings me to your future, where you must also be smart. It is not my place, as an aging sportswriter who can barely make a lay-up, to advise a sleek young NBA superstar about his prospects.
But I’ll do it anyhow.
In the style of John Cusack in the film “High Fidelity,” here’s my Top Five Reasons why Grant Hill Should Sign Back With Detroit:
1. The Alternatives. 2. Image. 3. Clout. 4. Joe. 5. Please, God, We’re Begging You.
OK. Ignore No. 5. I just threw that in.
Let’s start with No. 1. The Alternatives. Assuming you’re not looking for a massive pay cut, the only teams that can come close to the Pistons financially
— under the current salary cap rules — are the Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls.
Going to the Bulls is going backward. When it comes to rebuilding, the Bulls are Mozambique. Besides, you’d be haunted by the shadow of Michael Jordan. You might as well hoist his statue on your shoulders every time you shoot. Who needs that?
As for Orlando, yes, they have Doc Rivers, who just won Coach of the Year. But they still finished behind the Pistons and missed the playoffs. And look at their roster: Ron Mercer, a 6-foot-7 swingman, about your size, likes to play above the rim like you, and wants the ball for himself. John Amaechi and Michael Doleac as your big men? Ben Wallace as your rebounder? Opponents are not exactly shivering in fear here, Grant.
Besides, how many times can you go to Epcot Center?
Detroit rewards loyalty
No. 2. Image. Yours. One of the few bankable attributes for an athlete these days is playing with one team his whole career. Jordan had that. Magic and Bird had it, too. Joe Dumars and Steve Yzerman have it in this town, and you see how beloved they are.
Detroit will reward you for your loyalty. Moreover, you may find at the end of your career that you’re proud of staying in one place. Give that away now, you never get it back. Just ask Charles Barkley. A great player. But when he retired a few weeks ago, he had to tell people what team he was with.
No. 3. Clout. You have it now. You are The Man here. You are consulted on everything, from the head coach to the uniforms. Players kill for that status. Go someplace else, where the role is taken, it won’t be the same. You’re in the driver’s seat in Detroit. And besides, there’s ….
Joe Dumars. Which is my reason No. 4. You have a rare opportunity here. A guy you played with, a guy you respect, is now, next to the owner, the most powerful guy in the Pistons’ organization. He can make changes happen, changes you want and, more importantly, ones you respect. Dumars knows the little things that make a player a winner, he knows a team player from a stat hog. You can talk to him. He wants your input.
Did we mention No. 5, Please, God, We’re Begging You?
Never mind. I just threw that in.
No good reason to leave
Finally, if my reasons for staying don’t impress you, let’s work backward. Here’s the Top Five Reasons Why Grant Hill Should Leave.
1. Detroit’s Losing Karma. 2. Bad Front Office. 3. No Big Men. 4. Bigger Market. 5. Please, God, We’re Begging You.
Oops. How did No. 5 sneak in there?
Never mind. Let me shoot down this list. No. 1. Losing Karma. Says who? You were hurt in these playoffs. You didn’t stand a chance. Last year, your fifth season, you should have beaten Atlanta to advance to the second round — if not for a Bison Dele disappearing act.
Remember, Grant, Isiah Thomas was brought in, much like you, to save the franchise. And in his fifth season, the Pistons were also eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Three years later, he had a championship ring.
No. 2. Bad Front Office. I can’t argue this. The Pistons have not been well-steered since Jack McCloskey left. But now you have Dumars. Give him a chance. Sign a two-year deal if you’re not sure, and tell him, “Joe, you got two years to prove we’re gonna win.” If he can’t deliver, then get outta Dodge.
No. 3. No Big Men. Welcome to the real world. Take away San Antonio and L.A., and how many winning teams have dominant centers?
No. 4. Bigger Market. Let’s face it. This means L.A. or New York. If you sign with L.A., good luck getting the ball — and more than $1.50 a game, with their payroll. And New York can turn on you like a wounded snake.
Besides, if those McDonald’s and Sprite commercials are any indication, you seem to be doing OK in the national publicity department.
Bottom line? You can get more money here, more control here, more shots here, and can keep your image intact. Want to hedge your bets? Sign a shorter deal, see what happens.
I trust I have been cogent and concise in this letter. That’s all I have to offer. Good luck.
PLEASE, GOD, WE’RE BEGGING YOU!
Who said that?