It’s been a humbling week for Hall of Fame forward Grant Hill in South Florida as he called the Miami Heat-Philadelphia 76ers Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series as an analyst for TNT’s national television coverage.
As he walked to his courtside seat to help call Monday night’s Game 1 at FTX Arena, he found himself crossing paths with Micky Arison and Madeleine Arison.
As in the owner of the Heat and his wife.
As in a couple that a week before had celebrated the elimination in the first round of the Atlanta Hawks by the Heat.
As in the team in which Hill has both an ownership stake and an executive role.
“I sat down next to Mr. Arison and his wife before the game and congratulated them on an impressive first round,” Hill told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “and told them they could have at least given us one more game, they did. interesting.”
Instead, the 4-1 Heat, with Hill and those involved with the Hawks, were left with the harsh reality of what could come next for Atlanta, a team that fell to the No. 9 seed this season after advancing to the Finals. the 2021 Eastern Conference.
“Look,” Hill said, “we had high expectations. We didn’t have the year, at least the first half of the season, and then we came up against a team that really was fantastic at executing their game plan and made life difficult for us.
“And that’s what it’s like to go back to the drawing board and learn from him and hopefully get better next season.”
And, no, Hill said, no animus when it came to this Heat assignment in the best-of-seven series, part of the exclusive national broadcast.
“I have no problems there,” he said, “and it doesn’t have an impact on my ability to objectively decide the game.”
So back it was for Game 2 on Tuesday night, with a continued commitment to objectivity.
Hill, in fact, laughed at the idea that his objectivity was possibly challenged after possibly one of his toughest assignments, with the legendary and loyal former Duke Blue Devil calling North Carolina’s 81-77 victory over Duke in this year’s NCAA Final Four. Tournament.
“Look,” he said, “there’s nothing harder to say than Duke vs. North Carolina and North Carolina won and having to pay their respects to the Tar Heels and really honor and celebrate that achievement, which was an amazing run for Hubert Davis, a first for him. year, and that team.
“I think I’ve learned that you wear your hats and have different roles, so you have a job to do.”
Similarly, he said he took this TNT assignment with appreciation for what the Heat accomplished in the first round against his Hawks.
He said he was also suitably impressed when he called the Heat’s Game 1 victory over the 76ers on Monday night.
“Game 1, Miami, particularly that third quarter, was really impressive, the defense, the intensity, the effort, the depth that was shown,” he said.
So whether it’s a team that beat his Blue Devils or the team that ousted his Hawks, it’s all, he said, just part of the job.
“The job,” he said, “is to explain and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of a team.”