On June 28, former Duke and NBA star Grant Hill spoke to a packed house at the Varsity Club at Camping World Stadium, captivating a crowd of Florida Citrus Sports members and guests with tales from his career at the latest Chalk Talk presented by CenterState Bank.
A 19-year NBA player, Hill spent seven seasons with the Orlando Magic, averaging 16.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 200 games with the organization between 2000 and 2007. His heyday, however, came with the Detroit Pistons, his team for five of his seven career All-Star selections.
Check out a gallery from our “Chalk Talk” Lunch presented by CenterState above.
The 1994-95 NBA Rookie of the Year, Hill also won national titles at Duke in 1991 and 1992 — the latter coming thanks in part to one of the most memorable plays in basketball history — and will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7 of this year. During a Q&A with emcee Paul Kennedy, Hill discussed the importance of the upcoming honor.
“Once I got the news, to me it just validated things,” Hill said. “I didn’t win a championship, I didn’t have the career that I thought I would have earlier in my career. But to be recognized in that fashion is pretty cool.”
Hill also dished on his time with the Magic, a tenure that was marred by injuries, which limited Hill to fewer than 30 games in five of his seven seasons in Orlando, including just four games during the 2000-01 season and none during the 2003-04 campaign.
When Hill arrived in Central Florida, he did so alongside 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Tracy McGrady, and Hill says the pair still can’t help but wonder what might have been had Hill been able to stay healthy.
“We were talking about what could have been — woulda, coulda, shoulda,” Hill recalled of a memorable dinner in Cleveland with McGrady and Vince Carter during the 2016 NBA Finals. “And I think it would have given us a chance. L.A. was very talented, and in the East, at that point, in the early 2000s, New Jersey was very talented with Jason Kidd. But it would have given us an opportunity to be successful, an opportunity to win.
“There are a lot of variables that go into winning,” Hill continued. “But to have the two of us at that point in our careers, we would have had a chance.”
Following the interview, during which Hill also shared stories about Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and spoke about the state of the NBA, Hill fielded questions from the audience, including one about the Jordan-versus-LeBron debate — Hill is Team Jordan — and another about the state of UCF basketball, with Knights basketball coach and former Duke star Johnny Dawkins watching from the front row.
He also spoke about his new career as both a broadcaster and a co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks.
“It’s really a blessing to still be in and around the game and around sports even after retirement,” Hill said. “I’m still that kid who fell in love with basketball back in 1982. I’m still a fan. I still enjoy it.”
Additionally, Hill spoke about Pitt head coach and former Duke teammate Jeff Capel III, who lost his father, Jeff Capel, Jr., to ALS in November 2017.
After Capel, Jr., himself a former coach, was diagnosed in the spring of 2016, the United States Basketball Association partnered with the Duke ALS Clinic in Durham to start the Jeff Capel Jr. ALS Research Fund to support efforts to find a cure for the disease.
Florida Citrus Sports announced Thursday it would be making a $1,000 donation to the Fund in Hill’s name.
“It was devastating, as you can imagine,” Hill said of Capel’s passing. “I don’t know if any of you have been affected by (ALS) but it just rapidly happens. I’ve been supportive, as have a lot of former Dukies, and the support (from Florida Citrus Sports) is definitely much appreciated.”
And it’s that familial nature of sports, Hill said, that makes it such a special business to be a part of.
“I just want to encourage you to lead and continue to play a vital role here with Florida Citrus Sports,” Hill said. “Sports can be a powerful tool. Sports can bring people together. It can galvanize communities. Right now, as things are a little bit turbulent and divisive, sports can be something that could be really healing and bring people together.”
To make a donation to the Jeff Capel Jr. ALS Research Fund, visit https://bigtime.games/capelfund.