CAN GRANT HILL BECOME U.S. PRESIDENT
By Richard Chandler Burroughs
In a recent statement that feels like it got lost somewhere in a time machine, Grant Hill announced that he has retired from the NBA. That the announcement came in 2013 and not 2000, is a testament to many things and one of the reasons I think Grant Hill will be a very viable candidate for the President of these United States of America. First of all, in this age of biopic and political documentaries, that Grant Hill has a very close resemblance to Will Smith is a plus, which means he already has the lead actor for his fawning Hollywood puff piece. But that’s in the future and Grant HIll’s distinct, presidential possibilities, were forged in the past.
DAD IS DOPE
I’m not sure if being the son of a former NFL star player would be a boon or an albatross to any potential presidential candidate, but Grant’s dad was a very good football player and he played for America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. Now, Cowboy haters are only rivaled by Lakers’ haters in pure numbers (or maybe Yankee haters), if not in emotion and venom as well, but Calvin Hill played for Dallas when they were really establishing their reputation, helping the team win its first Super Bowl in 1971 and reverse the teams perception of always falling short on the big stage. Calvin’s Cowboys teams earned the love by bringing home the first Dallas’ championship trophy, before the popularity of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders spiked, with their sexy uniforms
Additionally, Calvin Hill was a smart dude, having attended Riverdale Country School in the Bronx one of those posh, NYC prep schools that the TV show Gossip Girls revolves around. He was there on a scholarship and routinely spanked the other Ivy Prep Schools in sports, including the popular Horace Mann. Calvin went on to play football and track and field at Yale University, where he was also a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and frat brothers with future U.S. president, George W. Bush. Calvin Hill sounds like a U.S. president’s dad and to top it off, Grant Hill’s mom, Janet Hill, was a suite mate of Hilary Rodham Clinton at Wesleyan College. His parents gave him the perfect background story for a future presidential run. So as the counter-narrative of far too many NBA stories, Grant didn’t bounce around from home to home or hold his father’s hand in the visiting room of a state penitentiary, but had a functional upbringing and thus withholding tabloid fodder for those who would seek to tear him down if he chose to run for president.
GRANT’S COLLEGE YEARS
If there’s any college program that is in the same stratosphere as the Cowboys, Yankees or Lakers, for inspiring hate (without discussing it’s rationality or merit), it’s the Duke Blue Devils. Gauging the plus/minus effect of a college affiliation on political aspirations can be tough, like handicapping a drunken ping-pong match in a dive bar, but the existence of sports team haters is directly connected to the quality and dominance of the teams that hater’s hate! In other words, Duke has haters, in large part, because Duke has so many fans from being such a successful college basketball program. Will that be a pro or a con for Grant Hill if he decides to enter politics is a mystery, though it would make for a great debate between Stephen A . Smith and Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take.
With Duke being one of the top schools in America, like Harvard or Yale, consistently raking in the top 10 Universities, it’s high time that they added another presidential affiliation other than Tricky Dick Nixon and his permanent, Watergate besmirchment..
Mr. Hill’s famous, court length pass to Christian Laettner for that last second, desperation heave was a key part of his collegiate lore, but he was also a two time NCAA champion with the Blue Devils. Like his dad being on the first championship team in Dallas, laying the foundation for the teams success and hence it’s conflicted love/hate relationship with sports fans, Grant Hill was part of the team that started the cavalcade of trophies and further cemented Duke as a perennial powerhouse. So Grant Hill wasn’t just a winner at Duke, he was a pioneering winner, setting the stage for the future Duke teams to perform with an expected level of excellence.
On top of that, Grant Hill graduated from Duke, which is a big deal considering the contemporary landscape of major college athletics and the paltry graduation rate of Black athletes at these schools. Going to Duke to play basketball is not just an excellent launch pad for an NBA career, but is also an incubator that produces solid citizens. Coach K not only produces basketball All-American’s but he has also produced 14 Academic-All American’s as well! And he wouldn’t have it any other way, just check the list of Dukies in the league and you don’t see many “mug-shot” NBA careers. For the record, “mug-shot” anything don’t traditionally fly so well in political careers
UNCLE TOM’S CABANA
Uncle Tom is a hardcore label to assign to any black person. If by that label, one means that a black person is actively colluding with white people to hold down his or her own race, then it’s almost incomprehensible for anyone to be an Uncle Tom. It’s the ultimate cut throat, sell out action. If he meant it in that sense, then Jalen Rose used such a heinous and libelous slur against Grant Hill, in his 30 for 30 special, that it was akin to a physical slap in the face. If he meant that Grant Hill and other Black Duke athletes were acting like a white person by going to a good school, getting their education, minimizing street slang when speaking and being the product of a Two Parent household…..well that’s just a seriously sickening indictment on the current state of black people in America……..where positive attributes are derided and utter ratchet attributes are celebrated.
Perhaps Jalen Rose’s particular take on the phrase adds some clarity to the subject of Duke hating, but calling the Black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” is an indication of just how warped the thinking of inner city black kids have become. That was the thinking of a teenage Jalen Rose and although I’m not sure if he’s cleared up how he feels on the topic now, I’m sure he would be proud as a peacock to have his kid play for Coach K.
PERSEVERANCE AND DEDICATION
Grant Hill also retired on the same day as Jason Kidd. They were co-rookie of the year winners and Hill’s future looked just as bright as Kidd’s, but then came the lowest blow…..bad ankles! Before the faulty wheels, he led Detroit to the playoffs nearly every year and averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists in those six seasons for the Pistons.
Those are great numbers! And, from all accounts, he was a great teammate. He knew he was a role model and embraced it as opposed to shying away from it like so many other professional athletes. I’m sure he understood that his battle to return from the ankle injuries, even when it robbed him of explosion and turned him into a role player and defensive specialist, was a lesson in perseverance and dedication to both kids and adults alike.
Mr. Hill feels that the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic mismanaged his injury and turned a broken ankle, that should have put him on the shelf for four to six months and turned it into a four season debacle. That mismanagement hasn’t made him bitter or resentful, but it has created a huge “what if” that is rightfully connected to his retirement announcement.
Those four years, in the prime of his career, when he played a combined 57 games (a single NBA season is 82 games), had to be extremely frustrating. Lot’s of player’s would have hung up their high tops and moved on, but Grant Hill worked tirelessly to return. That’s an admirable quality, especially in light of the guaranteed contracts in the NBA, which means he would still have been paid every dime of the $93 Million dollar deal that he signed with Orlando back in 2000. That’s an admirable trait, something to hang your hat on….and a future political campaign.
The tattoo has become inextricably connected to the NBA and with it a particular level of negativity since the public has associated the criminal aspect of NBA players with tattoos. Now, for the record, I don’t have any tattoos. I’ve never seriously wanted any tattoos, which is why I’m tat free. I’ve had a passing fancy for some ink, but nothing serious enough to get something so permanent. Players are going to college fully inked up, as if their first tat was shortly after birth. It’s no way that teenage kids should have such a high concentration of tattoos all over their torsos, arms, necks and legs.
The parents of these kids are failing them. Obviously, tattoo parlors ain’t the strictest at checking ID. Kids are coming to college with years worth of tattoos and I believe the legal age to have a tattoo is Eighteen in many states. Most of these kids are not going on to play professional basketball and those tats will have them ill fitted for getting a job outside of low-wage labor or in illegal business, where many former athletes wind up plying some sort of post career trade.
And even for the basketball players that do make it to the NBA, where the average career is 4.8 years (almost the length of Grant Hill’s recovery time from his ankle injury debacle), and where an estimated 60% are broke five years after retirement. What looks great in Sports Center highlights now, won’t look so good at all five years later, when they’re out of the league, scouring Craigslist for employment and stocking up on dermablend to hide the Chinese lettering all over their neck area.
Combined with the poor graduation rate of African-American, basketball athletes in college, it means these kids will be back at their mom’s house, with no degree, perhaps having been passed along through high school without learning the basics and now they need a job. Not much gonna happen for that guy WITHOUT a body full of tats! Parents have to look out for the future of their children and know that a kid is going to have a hard time becoming a full-fledged, responsible adult, taking care of himself and living on his own, with a body full of tattoos….no matter how many of the tats are of Jesus or a bible quote.
Grant Hill has done himself a favor by forgoing the tats.
NO TROUBLE WATER
For all thing things that Grant Hill had to endure and all of the time spent rehabbing, he has avoided the tabloid pages for any outlandish, borderline criminal or outright criminal behavior. He had a lot of downtime and I haven’t heard of any ratchetness or skulduggery or seen any police reports of his involvement in anything that stank of foul play. That’s not easy to do for players that are on the active roster and playing in each game! No additional babies outside of his marriage. No cheating or abusing his wife. No tawdry reality shows based on Grant and Tamia’s life has happened (although I don’t catch much reality shows, so perhaps I just missed the show “Grant & Tamia’s Boring and Ratchetless Life”).
He’s also not going broke, which says a lot about a person playing in any of the big three American, professional sports. Although Grant Hill has played roughly 4X the average NBA career, he still didn’t throw money around like a dumbot and play directly into the stereotype of the NBA idiot.
It’s rather refreshing when someone’s life from the NBA is NOT a precautionary tale because the kids heading down that same athletic lane don’t seem to learn from said precautionary tales anyway and it’s tiring to hear of former pro athletes and bankruptcy being so interrelated in the media.
TIME FOR A FORMER PRO ATHLETE IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Just like it was time for a Black president and is time for a female president, it’s probably time for a former pro athlete in the oval office! It’s a string of former athletes that are currently or have previously held political office, such as Jack Kemp, Steve Largent, Heath Shuler and J.C. Watts (NFL), Bill Bradley, Dave Bing and Kevin Johnson (NBA), though they have mainly been mayors or congressmen.
Could it be time for a former professional athlete to take the reins of the country, just like a former Hollywood actor once did? Its been lots of former actors in politics from
Shirley Temple (Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia)
to Sonny Bono (U.S. Representative, 44th District of California)
but like the former pro athletes, none of them ascended to the white house outside of the ole Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan and none has come after.
Could Grant Hill be the one athlete to break through and put his huge feet up on the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Could he be as popular as Ronald Reagan? He would certainly be the tallest president at 6’8″, easily beating out the the previous tallest presidents by 4 inches (Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson) and his March Madness bracket’s would be taken seriously by Vegas odds makers. It seems like he has the fortitude, background, admiral qualities, leadership and general congeniality needed to win and I think he could surely get into the White House before he gets into the Basketball HOF…..unless the paradigm switches and the rachett, ridiculous, “ride or die” athlete, who’s “about that life” becomes electable, basically, the anti-Grant Hill; in which case the pickings are plentiful.