One guy is an NBA professional

By Jeffery Armstrong

Last week I wrote a column about where's the 'pro' in professional athletes, especially some of the knuckleheads who compete in the National Basketball Association. I mentioned that there is about five or six guys in the NBA who embody the word professional. One of the five or six who are professional players in that league is Grant Hill of the Orlando Magic. Grant Hill has been through a lot during his professional basketball career and he has carried himself with the utmost class and grace.

Unlike another NBA player who plays out west for the Los Angeles Lakers - I think the guy's name is Kobe Bryant - Hill has managed to be a cool person and just play basketball, despite having some strife in his life. I was watching a sports talk show on Fox Sports Net last night and former NBA hooper Dennis Rodman was on the program, talking to former teammate John Salley and host of the show Tom Arnold. When asked about Kobe's situation pertaining to former Laker Karl Malone coming on to his wife, Rodman said something that really made me laugh and made me think at the same time:

"Kobe's an idiot," Rodman said.

Rodman went on to say that Bryant basically has the world in the palm of his hands: he's making around $20 million dollars per year, he's got a beautiful wife and daughter and he's the leader of the Lakers. Rodman said he needs to quit fussing (actually he said the b-dash-dash-dash word) and crying about everything and just concentrate on playing basketball. I totally agree.

Sure, Kobe went through a lot, but he brought a lot of his mess on himself by cheating on his wife and acting a fool with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and former coach Phil Jackson. Grant Hill, on the other hand, has been through some major issues from an injury and I can't recall an instance of where he's complained about his lot, despite fans actually saying he should retire and give his big salary back to the Magic. It started when he fractured a bone in his left ankle four years ago when he first came to the Magic. He had to have FOUR operations on that ankle and after the last operation in March of 2003, he developed a staph infection caused by an opening in the ankle incision and it was life-threatening. Hill's body temperature shot up to 104 degrees, his leg turned black and red and he went into shock. He was able to get to the hospital quick enough for doctors to stabilize him and then take some skin from his arm and close the incision on his ankle.

And to top that off, Hill's lovely wife Tamia, an R&B singer, was diagnosed last year with multiple sclerosis for which there is no cure at this time. So here goes Grant Hill on the floor every night this season, averaging about 20 points per game, knowing his wife is managing a debilitating disease and that his ankle will be swollen and ugly for the rest of his life.

He hasn't fussed about anything, enjoys playing the game and is still a class act. I wish nothing but success for him, his family and the Orlando Magic, the only NBA team

I'll remotely root for this season. So after what Hill had to experience, I can close this column with the immortal words of Dennis Rodman: Kobe's an idiot.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com .