Grant Hill returns quicker than Broncos
Talk about dating oneself. The last time Grant Hill played anything close to a full season in the NBA, the Broncos were on top of the world, two-time defending Super Bowl champs. Denver’s NFL franchise hasn’t won a playoff game since, and Hill, until this year, had been shelved like a dented can of peas. Times have changed. For Hill, at least. The player NBA fans have loved to lament is having the time of his life in Orlando this season, averaging 19 points per game for the 18-15 Magic in 32 starts. His ankle injuries, which many in the know thought had ended his career, finally have subsided.
It’s good to see for everyone, but even more so for those who followed Hill, a five-time All-Star, before his injuries. He’d been hurt for so long, people forgot how unbelievably good he was when he was healthy. He averaged 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Detroit the season before he got hurt (1999-2000). Those are LeBron James numbers. (LeBron, by the way, was a freshman in high school the last time Hill played regularly) …Speaking of the Broncos, too bad for them Indianapolis is just better in every way. (It was 35-3 at halftime!) I know a lot of it is scheme – and Peyton Manning, of course – but maybe the toughness of guys like Al Wilson and John Lynch isn’t rubbing off on the rest of that defense. When you see Reggie Wayne breaking arm tackle after arm tackle while going through that secondary, you have to wonder …Last week’s NFL picks gave us a 3-1 playoff record. This week we’re going all homies, or in other words: New England 27, Indianapolis 24 … Pittsburgh 21, N.Y. Jets 10 … Atlanta 34, St. Louis 20 … Philadelphia 31, Minnesota 13 …
A trio of NBA stats to chew on: Shaquille O’Neal averages 22.1 points per game. Dwyane Wade averages 23.8 (and 7.6 assists, fourth-best in the league). The Miami Heat are the best team in the Eastern Conference, at 27-9 going into Tuesday night’s tilt with 30-4 Phoenix … I don’t know what to make of Vince Carter’s statement last week that he didn’t give 100 percent while playing for Toronto. I guess it sort of stinks like rotten feet. “I was fortunate to have the talent,” he said in an interview with TNT’s John Thompson. “… You get spoiled when you’re able to do a lot of things. You see that you don’t have to work at it. Now, with all the injuries, I have to work harder. I’m a little hungrier.” Aren’t we all proud of the strides young Vince has made. And oh yeah, he’s turning 4 next week! …I know it’s early, and there’s still months of upsets to fail to predict, but seeing Illinois and Kansas at Nos. 1 and 2 on top of the college hoops standings, I can’t help but hope they both stay unbeaten. After all, as mad as March is on the hardwood, how crazy would it be to see a pair of undefeateds meet in the national championship game the first Monday in April? …
In parting, you really hate to see someone fail to live up to their name (Eli Manning), but it happens all the time to Oklahoma State women’s hoops coach Julie Goodenough. In fact, as a coach, she’s been herself fewer times than half, “good” enough for a 5-7 record …Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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