Draymond Green entered the NBA when Kobe Bryant and Grant Hill were winding up in their Hall of Fame careers. “G-Money” was playing his last season in the league, while the late LA Lakers legend was a few years removed from retirement.
The Golden State Warriors forward opened up on his podcast about the two players who had him awestruck early in his NBA career. Here’s what “Dray” had to say about what it meant to play against these iconic players:
“There were two people that I was starstruck by that I had the opportunity to play against. I would always start with the first one being Kobe. Obviously, we all know Kobe, no surprise.
“You’d never guess who the second one is and no one ever gets it right and it’s actually Grant Hill for me.”
“Grant Hill, when I was growing up, was like LeBron before LeBron, playing in those Pistons jersey. Grant Hill, come down, he hit you with the hesi and go. Grant Hill was incredible! Obviously, he had the injuries, but I was a huge fan of Grant Hill. I had the Fila Grant Hill shoes.”
Kobe Bryant was arguably the biggest and most important player in the NBA when Draymond Green was drafted by the Warriors in 2012. Even in the last few years of his career, the “Black Mamba” was still the highest-paid player in the NBA.
He also had the adoration of thousands of basketball fans who watched the high school phenom turn into a basketball legend.
Hill, on the other hand, was often the forgotten star, who could have been the biggest of them all if not for brutal injuries. But as Draymond Green grew up an avid Detroit Pistons fan, he completely understood what “G-Hill” meant to Motor City and the entire NBA.
Before Kobe Bryant started to flourish, Hill was already dubbed by many as the next big thing in basketball. He was considered Michael Jordan's heir apparent although Hill’s style was reminiscent of Magic Johnson's, but with more athleticism and explosion.
Draymond Green and the basketball world never got to see a Kobe Bryant and Grant Hill rivalry
Draymond Green and basketball fans could only imagine what a Kobe Bryant and Grant Hill rivalry would've looked like.
Hill showed what he was all about, even in his rookie season when he led the NBA in All-Star voting. In comparison, the great LeBron James did not even make the mid-year selection in his first year in the league.
Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, took time to develop but was already a force to be reckoned with in his second year and became an All-Star. Alongside Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant went on to dominate the NBA in the early 2000s and helped the LA Lakers nail a grand slam.
While “KB24” went on to mesmerize Draymond Green and basketball fans for years, G-Hill slowly faded into the background after devastating injuries. The NBA was robbed of what could have been a titanic duel between the two explosive superstars had Hill managed to stay healthy.
Bryant’s place in basketball history as one of the greatest ever players is strongly cemented. Hill's what-could-have-been story, on the other hand, is remembered, unfortunately, only by some.
Green, one of the most outspoken players in the league, has just reminded people what a great player the former Duke University star was.