It's been a devastating start to the season for the Boston Celtics. I'm not a Celtics fan, but I must admit, I was looking forward to seeing what type of season they'd have with their new signings and if they could give the Cavs any type of challenge this year. Needless to say, I was so sad to see Gordon Hayward go down with such a terrible injury at this point in his career and at this point in the season.
Hayward is a great player, an All-Star at best, maybe even a future champion with the right team around him. But there have been some players in the past who will forever have huge 'what if's' hanging over their careers.
Two such players which come to mind are Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill. Let's start with Penny, he and Shaq were Shaq and Kobe before Shaq and Kobe. The mid 90s Orlando Magic team were the dynasty which never happened and was instead played out in Los Angeles at the start of the new millennium. Shaq's trade to LA was obviously a big part of this, but let's not forget, Anfernee Penny Hardaway was an amazing player who should have had a standout career and counted among the greats.
But not long after O'Neal gave up on Orlando, Hardaway's body gave up on him. Knee and ankle injuries mean that, although he continued to play until 2007, his career was only a fraction of what it could have been.
From the start of his Career, Grant Hill was predicted to be the next Michael Jordan, the one who would bring championships back to Detroit. He entered the league in 1995 with the city on his shoulders. He would initially live up to the hype, he was a Scottie Pippen type of player who could handle the ball and beat a defender one on one. He was a beast, a 'rookie sensation' and a future champion for sure.
Don't get me wrong, Hill actually went on to have a solid NBA career. He put up some great numbers and became a strong role player later in his career before retiring with the Clippers in 2013. But comparing this with the type of career he could have had if he hadn't have been plagued with injuries in the late 90s leaves some questions.
I hate to see great players (or indeed any players) going down with serious injuries, I wish Gordon Hayward a swift recovery. In the meantime, let's enjoy some highlights from Penny Hardaway and Grant Hill's glory days.