Sunday, May 9, 2010

Doug Collins, Ace Reporter

Doug Collins, longtime color commentator for TNT, must be the Bob Woodward of NBA journalists. Whenever he broadcasts a Phoenix Suns game (or, prior to the 2007-08 season, whenever he did an Orlando tilt) he brings viewers useful bits of knowledge from his "insider source" Grant Hill. Apparently Hill is in the habit of sidling up to Collins's broadcast table during the game to kibbitz.

There are two reasons for this unusually close relationship. First, Collins's son, Chris Collins, was a teammate of Hill on the Duke University team in the early 1990s. Together, they almost won a third national championship for Duke in the 1994 NCAA tournament, falling eventually to Arkansas in front of a delighted President Clinton. The younger Collins remained so close to that college program that he returned as an assistant coach for Coach Krzyzewski in 2000, where he has remained for 10 years.

Second, the elder Collins coached Grant Hill on the Detroit Pistons during his finest years, 1995-96 through 1997-98. In '96-'97, the Pistons went 54-28 and Hill turned in an MVP-caliber season with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Sadly, that was the pinnacle of Hill's career, as he never again won so many games until he joined 55-win Phoenix for 2007-08. With his devastating ankle injury in 2000, he was never again the same dynamic player, either.

It is little wonder that Hill, who as we pointed out here is the son of an athlete, can feel some affinity with Doug Collins, the father of an athlete, as a paternal figure.

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