Suns News

Hill Named 2009-10 NBA Sportsmanship Award Winner

Grant Hill accepted the Joe Dumars Trophy from NBA legend Bob Lanier before Game 5.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Josh Greene,Suns.com
Posted: April 26, 2010

Following Grant Hill’s 10-of-11 shooting from the floor in Game 2, an appreciative Head Coach Alvin Gentry called out the starting small forward in his postgame locker room speech.

There was only one problem, though. The 15-year veteran was still out on the floor.

Between stopping to address the media on his way back to the locker room, checking in on his family and sharing high-fives with raucous Suns fans, Hill’s Game 2 postgame routine was sort of reminisicent of many others this season, win or lose, good game vs. bad for the 15-year NBA veteran. It also helped sum up why the forward was named the 2009-10 NBA Sportsmanship Award winner prior to Monday’s Game 5.

The first three-time winner of the Joe Dumars Trophy, Hill also took home the award in 2004-05 with Orlando and in his first season with Phoenix in 2007-08. This year, he paced an NBA field that included the likes of Chauncey Billups, Ray Allen, Antawn Jamison, Al Horford and Luis Scola. The league will donate $10,000 on Hill’s behalf to the WellCare Foundation – the same organization he and his wife, Tamia, teamed up with (in addition to Fry’s Food Stores), to provide 50 Thanksgiving dinners to Valley families last November.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Gentry said of Hill's award. “I’ve had the privilege of coaching this guy eight of the 15 years he’s been in the league. If it was up to me, Grant would win the award every year. Every coach should have an opportunity to coach a guy like him. He comes to practice everyday and plays extremely hard. He plays for the team. More so than anything, he’s a better person than he is a basketball player. And I think he’s a great, great basketball player.”

Hill and the Suns will leave for Portland on Wednesday, up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series for the first time since the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals, with a chance to advance to the second round with a potential victory in Game 6 Thursday.

“We get a couple days of rest and then go back to Portland,” said Hill after his four-point, three-assist and three-rebound showing in the Suns’ 107-88 Game 5 win. “We know it’s going to be loud there. It was a good win tonight, and it’d be nice to get a win there Thursday.”

LOSE ONE, WIN ONE… AGAIN

If there was one positive to the Suns dropping Game 4 in Portland, it was that history was on their side for Game 5. Phoenix hasn’t dropped consecutive games since January 25-26, winning 10 consecutive following a defeat. That includes seven double-digit margin of victories, including Monday’s 19-point win. That’s not bad for a team that was down by 14 to Portland earlier in the game.

“After losses, we don’t worry about it,” Grant Hill told Suns.com. “We always bounce back after a poor performance. Steve (Nash) and I were talking at shootaround today, and we were saying, ‘We are going to win big.’ Even when they got up big, we weren’t alarmed. Obviously, you have that sense of urgency, but it’s a long game and you just have to be confident with what you’re doing, believe in what you’re doing and believe it will work out in the long run. And it did.”

EL PERFECTO

For the fourth time in his playoff career, Steve Nash made nine or more free throws without a miss en route to 14 points to go along with a game-high 10 assists Monday. The Suns’ playmaker finished a perfect 9-of-9 from the line.

“We just had a better tempo to our game,” the All-Star point guard said. “We weren’t as stagnant and predictable – when the ball stops and we’re either thinking or hesitating or looking around at each other. I think we can become predictable and much more easy to defend, and I thought there was less of that tonight.”

LOPEZ TO RETURN… IN THE FUTURE

Under the watchful eye of Suns Head Athletic Trainer Aaron Nelson, recovering-center Robin Lopez spent the tail end of Monday’s morning practice working on his low post moves against recent NBDL call-up Dwayne Jones. The big man continues tp get back into game-shape for his much-hoped-for later-round return in the 2010 NBA Playoffs. Out of action since March 26 with a bulging disc in his back, he will be re-evaluated in a week.

Working out on the condition that he has no pain or any other issues developing, it’s still a positive sign to see Lopez on the practice court, even though according to the Suns head coach, it will still be some time before No. 15 suits up for a game.

“He’s coming along,” Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “To work out and then get into an actual game situation, I still think he’s a ways from that. If it works out, it works out, but the thing we have to do is take care of business on the court. Right now, all of our focus is on Portland and finding a way to win one more game against these guys.”