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Grant Hill viewing Heat’s NBA playoff run through dual prisms, no longer with Hawk-ish stance

It has been a humbling week for Hall of Fame forward Grant Hill in South Florida while calling the Miami Heat-Philadelphia 76ers Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series as an analyst for TNT’s national television coverage.

As he walked to his courtside seat to help call Monday night’s Game 1 at FTX Arena, he found himself crossing paths with Micky Arison and Madeleine Arison.

As in the Heat owner and his wife.

As in a couple who a week earlier had celebrated the Heat’s first-round ouster of the Atlanta Hawks.

As in the team that Hill holds both an ownership stake in as well as an executive role.

“I sat next to Mr. Arison and his wife before the game and I congratulated them on an impressive first round,” Hill told the Sun Sentinel, “and told them they could at least have given us one more game, made it interesting.”

Instead 4-1 Heat, with Hill and those involved with the Hawks left with hard realities of what might come next for Atlanta, a team that fell to a No. 9 seed this season after advancing to the 2021 Eastern Conference finals.

“Look,” Hill said, “we had high expectations. We didn’t quite have the year, at least the first half of the season, and then we matched up against a team that really was fantastic at executing their game plan and making life difficult for us.

“And so it’s back to the drawing board and learn from it and hope to get better next season.”

And, no, Hill said, no animus when it came to this Heat assignment in the best-of-seven series, part of the exclusive national broadcast.

“I have no issues there,” he said, “and it doesn’t have an impact on my ability to objectively call the game.”

So back it was for Tuesday night’s Game 2, with an ongoing commitment to objectivity.

Hill, in fact, laughed about the notion of his objectivity possibly being challenged after arguably one of his most difficult assignments, with the legendary and loyal former Duke Blue Devil calling North Carolina’s 81-77 victory over Duke at this year’s Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

“Look,” he said, “there’s nothing harder than calling Duke vs. North Carolina and North Carolina winning and having to pay your respects to the Tar Heels and really honor and celebrate that accomplishment, which was an incredible run for Hubert Davis his first year, and that team.

“I think I’ve learned you wear your hats, and you have different roles, and so you have a job to do.”

Similarly, he said he took this TNT assignment with appreciation of what the Heat accomplished in the first round against his Hawks.

He said he also was duly impressed when he called the Heat’s Game 1 victory over the 76ers on Monday night.

“Game 1, Miami, particularly that third quarter, was really impressive, the defense, the intensity, the effort, the depth that was on display,” he said.

So whether it was a team beating his Blue Devils or the team that ousted his Hawks, all, he said, simply part of the job.

“The job,” he said, “is to explain and acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of a team.”

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