When Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill came into the league, he was labeled the next Michael Jordan. Which is unfair to Hill. But the third-year point forward could someday be another Scottie Pippen, who has been the most versatile forward in basketball for years.
Both are small forwards who are capable of performing like point guards. The two faced each other on Christmas night, where their similarities were evident: each scored 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
"When I look at him, I see a lot of myself," said Pippen, whose Chicago Bulls won the game, 95-83. "He's a very talented player with an all-around game like mine. He finds the open shooters. He brings the ball up and gets them easy baskets in transition. Yeah, we're a lot alike."
According to Pippen, because Hill has had a major role with the Pistons from the start of his career, he will only get better.
"He's had an opportunity to get his career started a lot earlier than I did," Pippen said. "When I came in here, I had a great " superstar on my team. I was kind of eased into the picture while he's being thrown to the wolves. They're saying, 'Here, carry us and we're going to build a team around you.' "
Hill, when told of Pippen's comments, was gracious. "Coming from a person like Pippen, I am very flattered and appreciate it because I consider Pippen to be the best at this position," he said.
Iverson blows off Bulls
However, Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Allen Iverson has not won any fans with the Bulls.
When the Bulls played their home opener Nov. 2, Iverson directed a lot of trash-talking in the Bulls' direction -- and reportedly even dissed Jordan. When the teams played again on Saturday, Jordan tried to pull Iverson aside.
"He told me he doesn't have to respect anybody," Jordan said. "I told him he's going to have to respect us, if no one else."
In that game, Iverson nearly came to blows twice with Bulls forward Dennis Rodman.
The bad blood started in the first game, when Rodman criticized Iverson for shooting too much. "Iverson came in there thinking he was Jumanji and was going to control the whole forest and the wilderness," Rodman said.
Later Rodman cited Iverson as the example of the young players entering the league today.
"They need to stay in school and understand the game of basketball. I see some of these rookies and they can't even talk. They think their money does the talking. It's more than that."
For those of you who think Iverson is a lock for Rookie of the Year, consider these stats: Iverson, although sixth in the league in scoring, is shooting just 38.7 percent; and his 115 turnovers (5.8 per game) lead the league.
Around the league
While the Miami Heat has won 12 straight road games, the team had a 6-5 record at home before last night's win over Orlando. "It's hard for me to understand," coach Pat Riley said. "I think, on the road, the commitment to their clarity has been better than it has been at home."
Weird stat of the week: The Boston Celtics won their first opening tap of the season in Sunday's game against Charlotte.
Yinka "Stinka" Dare assist update: still zero.
Magic guard Anfernee Hardaway got ripped by the Orlando media because he was rehabilitating his knee in Houston, and not in Orlando. Last year Shaquille O'Neal did one month of rehabilitation of a broken thumb in Los Angeles -- the place he eventually signed. Hardaway can become a free agent after next season.
Quote of the week
From Houston Rockets forward Charles Barkley, after his pointed finger led to a cut on official Jack Nies -- leading to a two-game suspension: "It's been a while since I had my nails done. I had those big ginsu nails going."
Jerry Bembry can be reached on the Internet at Jeryol.com
Pub Date: 12/27/96