On a night where the Suns racked up a “W” in their regular-season finale, earning a trip to San Antonio to battle the Spurs this Saturday in Game 1 of the Opening Round of the NBA Playoffs, a very different kind of victory preceded the 100-91 win over the Trail Blazers.
During pre-game festivities, Suns Ring of Honor great Dan Majerle presented the 2007-08 Majerle Hustle Award to guard Grant Hill, who now joins the ranks of teammates and recent winners Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell.
“It means a lot,” Hill told Suns.com about receiving the award. “Dan is somebody I’ve always respected as a player and as a professional. I never really looked at myself as a hustle player, but I appreciate the acknowledgment.”
Created by Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo, the award is presented to the Suns player who most personifies the qualities of “Thunder Dan,” who, as Colangelo said at No. 9’s Ring of Honor ceremony in 2003, “gave maximum effort in every game, every practice… in everything he did.”
The winner of the award was selected based on the results of five voting categories: Suns fans, Suns players, Suns coaches, Suns employees and by Majerle himself.
“Grant just epitomizes everything I like in a player,” Majerle told Suns.com. “He’s very versatile. He’s been around for a long time and does whatever it takes to win. He fills up the stat sheet, but he also does a lot of things that don’t show up… hustling after loose balls and steals. You’d think a guy who’s been injured as much as he has in the past would be more cautious, but he’s not. He plays 100 percent, all out, every night. There is a not a better person to receive this award.”
Even though he was inactive Wednesday after straining a groin in Monday’s win, Hill explained that overall he’s content with what he’s brought to the playoff-bound Suns in his first season in the Valley, and he hopes they are, as well.
“As crazy as it sounds sitting out tonight, I’m proud to have played 70 games,” the guard said. “That’s the most for me in 10 years. Hopefully, my teammates have been able to rely on me. I do little things that may not show up in the box score, but I hope I’ve contributed to us winning