I love Grant Hill, you love Grant Hill. But how much should we REALLY love Grant Hill?
Several times over the previous few months, posters here on Bright Side have suggested that Hill belongs in the Suns Ring of Honor. Regardless of how BAMFy the veteran medical miracle is - I just don't see it.
The Suns Ring of Honor currently consists of 9 players, a long-time athletic trainer, a head coach, and the man who has served nearly every role with the organization sans donning a pair of short shorts, Jerry Colangelo.
Perhaps it's my constant need and desire to analyze Suns franchise history but if you look at Hill's credentials he just doesn't stack up. Obviously you can't compare Hill to Joe Proski's athletic training, Cotton Fitzsimmons' coaching, or Colangelo but put him against the 9 players and it just doesn't pass the smell test.
Admission into the Suns Ring of Honor should be and is based on the accomplishment of the player while in Phoenix. Thus, Shaquille O'Neal is one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history but nobody is going to express shock when he's unable to wriggle his way into the Ring of Honor.
To give you the appropriate background, here are the current 9 and their accomplishments when they played for the Suns:
Alvan Adams, F/C (1975-1988)
- 13 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 2 player on 1976 NBA Finals team along with 1979 Western Conference Finalist, 6th man for 1984 Western Conference Finalist
- 1975-76 Rookie of the Year, 1976 All-Star
- Franchise All-time leader in games, minutes, rebounds, steals
- Second in franchise history in points
Charles Barkley, F (1992-1996)
- 4 seasons in Phoenix
- Best player for 1993 NBA Finals team and Suns teams that won 56 and 59 games
- 1992-93 NBA MVP
- All-NBA 1st Team (1992-93), 2nd Team (x2), 3rd Team 1995-96
- 4-time All Star
- Second in franchise history in points per game (23.4), rebounds per game (11.5)
Tom Chambers, F (1988-1993)
- 5 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 2 player for 1989 and 1990 Western Conference Finalists, key bench player for 1993 NBA Finals team
- All-NBA 2nd Team (x2)
- 3-time All-Star
Walter Davis, G (1977-1988)
- 11 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 2 player on Western Conference Finals teams in 1979 and 1984, Top 2 or 3 player on 4 different 50-win teams
- 1977-78 Rookie of the Year
- 6-time All-Star
- All NBA 2nd team (x2)
- Franchise All-time leader in points, field goals, second all-time in games
Connie Hawkins, F (1969-1973)
- 4 seasons (and 8 games)in Phoenix
- Top player on Suns first playoff team ever (1970)
- 4-time All-Star
- All-NBA 1st Team (1969-70)
- 20.5 points per game for Suns career (8th in franchise history)
- First real franchise superstar
Kevin Johnson, G (1988-2000)
- 10 full seasons and parts of 2 others in Phoenix
- Top 2 player on 1989 and 1990 Western Conference Finals team, Top 3 player on 1993 NBA Finals team
- 3-time All-Star
- All-NBA 2nd Team (x4), All-NBA Third Team (1991-92)
- 1988-89 NBA Most Improved Player
- Franchise All-time leader in: Assists, Free throw attempts, free throws. Third All-time in points
- Came back to team after a season off when Jason Kidd was injured. (Spring 2000)
Dan Majerle, G/F (1988-1995, 2001-2002)
- 8 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 3 player on 1993 NBA Finals team. Key bench player on 1989 and 1990 Western Conference Finals teams
- 3-time All-Star
- All-Defensive 2nd Team (x2)
- Second in franchise history in 3 point field goals, 3 point field goal attempts (Nash).
Dick Van Arsdale, G (1968-1977)
- 9 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 2 player on first Suns playoff team (1970), starter on 1976 NBA Finals team
- 3-time All-Star
- All-Defensive 2nd Team (1973-74)
- Second in franchise history in free throws, free throw attempts. Third in franchise history in games player
- He's the freaking Original Sun
Paul Westphal, G (1975-1980, 1983-84)
- 6 seasons in Phoenix
- Top 2 player on 1976 NBA Finals team, Top 2 player on 1979 Western Conference Finals team, and role player on 1984 Western Conference Finals team
- 4-time All-Star
- All-NBA 1st Team (x3), All-NBA 2nd Team (1977-78)
- Seventh in assists, 6th in steals, 8th in points
- Also happened to coach the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals and a 191-88 record in 3+ seasons with the team
Look at that list and then look back at Grant Hill.
Grant Hill, F (2007-present)
- 4 seasons in Phoenix (and counting)
- Top 4 player on 2010 Western Conference Finals team, starter on 2007-2008 team knocked out in 1st round of playoffs
- Points per game high - 13.8 (2010-11)
- NBA Sportsmanship award (x2)
You could add that Hill is a good defender who takes the other team's best player in nearly every game the Suns play but you're not taking it a whole lot further than the list above. You can't wish Suns accomplishments onto his resume - no matter how badly you might want to.
I understand that the story on Hill isn't entirely written yet - but it's close. He could theoretically lead the Suns on a miracle run to the championship this season where he's a Top 3 player on the squad and averaging his Suns high in points - but he probably won't. If we're lucky we'll get a couple more solid offensive seasons out of him combined with his flexible and unique defensive abilities - and that just won't be enough to get him enshrined.
Ask yourself this, does Hill really stack up against the current crop of Ring of Honor members?
5 of the 9 guys played 8 or more seasons with the team and 4 of those 5 made a minimum of 3 All-Star appearances in a Phoenix uniform. The 5th was Alvan Adams and he was the longest tenured Sun at 13 seasons. Even the most wild of dreamers can't imagine Hill plays another 4 seasons with the Suns so he's not going to bust into that club and strong odds are he'll never make an All-Star team as a Sun.
Then there are the 4 guys who played 6 seasons or less in Phoenix. What have we got there - an NBA MVP, a host of All-NBA selections (of all three classes), guys who were either the best player or best scorer on NBA title contenders, and the first superstar the franchise ever knew.
You can try and form an argument for why Grant Hill's tenure is similar to Charles Barkley, Connie Hawkins, Tom Chambers, or Paul Westphal but be advised that I'll probably laugh you out of the room. Then once you're out of the room I'll probably chase you down and laugh at you some more - just for my own petty amusement.
The Suns Ring of Honor is for the best of the best in franchise history - I've enjoyed Grant Hill's tenure in Phoenix as much as anyone but best of the best doesn't define him here unless you're talking about being a good guy. For my money there are only three guys deserving of induction into the Ring of Honor who aren't already there and the only reason is that they're still playing. Spoiler alert - Grant Hill doesn't compare to them either.
You might know the trio as the heart and soul of the Seven Seconds or Less era - Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion. I know you're not questioning Nash and Stoudemire's credentials and if you want to argue about Marion please google "Shawn Marion - basketball reference" real quick and get back to me.
Again, I love me some Grant Hill and think he has been a good player and a model citizen while a member of the Suns - he just doesn't deserve to be in the Suns Ring of Honor. There's no shame in that. Hill can have a job for life in the organization but something tells me he won't need it. If for some reason you do think Hill should be in the Ring of Honor, show me why - and make your argument make sense. The fact that he's a swell guy isn't enough - if it were Mark West would be enshrined.