I grew up watching the Bad Boys, but by the time I actually got a chance to go see some games in person, the Pistons had fallen on some pretty hard times. I had one of those 12-game mini-season ticket packages in 1993-94, so I caught the tail end of the (thankfully short) Ronny Rothstein era.
What do I remember? Bill Laimbeer playing 11 games before calling it quits; Sean Elliott pouting in his only season in Detroit; Isiah Thomas sadly picking up a few DNP-CD's before resentfully passing the torch to rookie Lindsey Hunter; Terry Mills turning in the best season of his career, and me believing it was just the start of things to come.
The Pistons won just 20 games that year, but the silver lining was that they were awarded the second overall pick in the 1994 draft. Grant Hill immediately made being a Pistons fan fun again. I attended his very first exhibition game at the Palace -- the Pistons won the tipoff, Dumars dribbled up court and tossed a picture perfect alley-oop to Hill for the first points of the game. I kid you not, it couldn't have been scripted any better.
Hill got the Pistons back to the playoffs by his second season, and he kept them there for four of the next five years. The media loved his clean-cut image, and he was universally regarded as the "next" Michael Jordan, before Kobe, and before LeBron.
Even though Hill bolted for Orlando as a free agent in 2000, it's impossible for me to hold any ill-will against him: it was his sign-and-trade deal that brought Detroit Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins, and he hasn't exactly had an easy time of things since moving on.
He arrived in Orlando with a balky left ankle, and after countless surgeries and comebacks, he played just 47 games over the first four years of his contract. He finally stayed healthy long enough to play 67 games last year, but even though he finished with decent stats, you can't help but feel for a guy that was basically robbed of the prime of his career.
Where am I going with this? Well, all of this is basically just an extended intro to this piece of news:
Hill missed the Magic's 105-100 exhibition victory against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night at TD Waterhouse Centre with what the club called an abdomen strain.
But there's obviously just as much stress as strain for the Magic.
Hill said he would travel to Philadelphia today and be evaluated Monday by Dr. William Meyers, an abdomen/groin specialist who has treated some of the biggest stars in pro sports.
Magic team doctor Joe Billings said Hill's magnetic resonance imaging results -- which were shipped Friday from Orlando for viewing by a doctor in California -- showed no obvious tear.
But Billings said there is "concern" because Hill is still in pain, necessitating the trip to see Meyers, who has treated Nomar Garciaparra, Donovan McNabb and Roy Oswalt.
"If it was a big tear, we would have seen it on the MRI, but there's concern because he's still pretty sore," Billings said.
Hill will probably sit out the last two exhibition games, and his status for the season opener on Nov. 2 looks to be in question. Hopefully this is nothing, because I'd really like to see this guy put all of his injury problems behind him once and for all. Poor guy is already 33 years old. . . one year older than Isiah when he finally hung it up back in 1994.
Magic's Hill to see specialist [Orlando Sentinel]