Dukeblog: I’m joined by Grant Hill, Duke great, NBA great, and one of the executive producers of the new documentary Duke ’91 & ’92, that revisits Dukes historic run of back to back NCAA Titles.
Firstly thanks for the time out of your schedule, I appreciate that. Can you tell me how did the idea for the documentary come about?
Grant Hill: Well, i think for me personally , about 2 and and a half years I ago got the idea when I started working on the Coach Buehler project,which is a story about another Dukie, I felt like wow, this is fun, telling stories and fast approaching is the 20 year reunion, so why not do the Coach Buehler film and then tackle this project. And so that was going back 2 and a half years ago , and here we are and having the chance to do this and reconnect and talk with the guys and basically pay homage to what we were able to accomplish. Its a lot of fun.
Dukeblog: I’m sure you keep in close contact with a lot of the guys from that team, how was it getting together back in Durham for the Hall of Fame ceremony?
Grant Hill: It was great, it was awesome, not everyone could make it you know, but a majority of the guys were there for that and we’ll get most everyone on film, on camera in interviews, it was great to be there on campus with your former teammates all at once and to witness Bobby (Hurley) going into the the Duke Sports Hall of Fame with Coach K at the same time which is kind of weird that taken so long for him to get in. It was just a lot of fun and it was natural and it was good. Some people you haven’t seen in a long, long time and it was just like it was 20 years ago, the bond was still there, the friendships, the experiences. Sometimes people grow apart and sometimes you worry about that, but i definitely didn’t sense that, I felt like everyone really enjoyed their time, and enjoyed the experience.
Dukeblog: One of the best pieces I read from the press release was: “college basketball’s most influential and successful programs, on and off the court, of the last 20 years.”
How do you think the program has maintained that level of success in both arenas?
Grant Hill: I think the reason they have maintained success is Coach K. I was telling somebody once that when he first came in on a home visit the one thing that attracted me to him was that he had this hunger about him, this edge and fast forward almost 20 years later, he still has it.
He’s older, he’s more accomplished, he’s busy, he’s got the Dream Team, and he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down not one bit and so i don’t know how in terms of how he operates things, if he delegates obviously with the former players on his staff, I’m not privy to all of that, but i just know that with this guy it’s like I’m back and I’m 17 years old and he’s recruiting, he’s still just as fired up and with that there gets a standard of excellence. He holds himself accountable he has a certain standards on how he runs the program and how he interacts with this staff and interacts with his players and I think he demands that from everyone around him. I think that fire and that standard of excellence is why duke, whether its 1991 or 2011, is no different, it might even be better with the facilities they have now. I don’t want to minimize what we accomplished but there is no slowing down, its pretty remarkable.
Dukeblog: How does the completion of this project rank among your list of accomplishments?
Grant Hill: Well, its interesting, I think my mindset is always to try to look forward, even going back being taught this at Duke: You make a great play on the court, you make a bad play, you move on to the next play, it always keeps you present it always keeps you moving forward and that was something that was preached to us, whether its the upcoming season, the upcoming game, projects off the court, going through injuries its always moving forward. I haven’t really had a chance to reflect a lot on things so this project is unique and different than a lot of the other things I’m doing because I’m really able to look back from a different perspective 20 years later and really appreciate what I was a part of and what we as a group of kids were able to do.
Dukeblog: How close do you remain to the program now that you’ve moved on to the NBA and other professional endeavors?
Grant Hill: Yeah i mean, I feel like I’m very close, obviously during my season it’s tough at times and can be challenging, but I get updates, I’ve been back on campus, Coach K has this fantasy basketball camp that is great because you meet a lot of former players from different eras you get guys from the 80’s, 90’s and even present day 2011. You get a chance to interact with those guys, and we’re all counselors at the camp, they do a great job of keeping us informed as to what’s going on through email, some of the same administrative assistants who were there when I was there are still there, you can call, there’s a relationship, there’s a trust and a familiarity. I went to china with the team and with my family also, which was a great and unique experience. I feel close to the university. I’m still tied to the program it’s fun, and it’s fun to see these guys and watch them have great experiences themselves as student athletes.
Dukeblog: Thank you Grant, I appreciate you taking time out for the Dukeblog, I can’t wait to see the finished product along with the rest of the fans out there, it’s going to be amazing.
Grant Hill: Alright no problem, thank you and take care.
Be sure to visit http://granthill.com/ for more info on all things Grant Hill and the new documentary Duke ’91 & ’92 will air on truTV in advance of Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, which airs exclusively on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV.