It's easy to forget how good Grant Hill was.

He's often remembered as a former All-American who led Duke to back-back national titles in 1991 and 1992.

That momentum didn't relent in the NBA, where Hill thrived. The Detroit Pistons drafted him third overall in 1994. He was named Co-Rookie of the Year and made the All-Star Game. He went on to make the All-Star Game six times by 2001, and in 1996 he drew more votes than Michael Jordan.

The 1997 All-NBA First Team member went on to tally 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds, and 2,720 assists by the end of his sixth season. Only three players have done better: Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and LeBron James.

Grant Hill was phenomenal.

So what happened?

"I'll say this: At no time did I defy a doctor's orders and play when I shouldn't have played." Hill says. "One time, I knew I was done for the year, and it would have been the last time I played against Michael Jordan -- I knew I would have to have surgery and be done for the season, and I played one quarter."

Despite his best intentions, Hill's ankles gave up on him. In his first season with the Orlando Magic after signing a seven-year, $93 million contract, Hill's left ankle started to cause problems.

Just months before signing with the Magic, he underwent surgery to fix the medial malleolus on his ankle. The surgery seemed to be successful, but Hill last only four games the following season before the injury sidelined him for the year.

What followed was a horror show: Five surgeries in less than three years, with a serious MRSA infection that almost killed Hill and put him on intravenous antibiotics for six months.

By 2004, Hill had seemed to fully recover from his medical troubles. After missing 199 of 246 games in three years -- including the entire 2003-04 season -- Hill returned to average almost 20 points while being voted back in to the All-Star Game.

The next season, though, a rash of injuries throughout his lower body limited Hill to just 21 games -- and lowered the ceiling of his on-court performance for good.

Hill's timeline is relevant today because it mirrors Derrick Rose's current path: One of the league's great players endures multiple serious injuries -- an ACL tear followed by a meniscus tear -- while missing all but 10 games of two NBA seasons. A return from such a long layoff is marked by flashes of brilliance interrupted by a litany of seemingly minor injuries.

The fear of re-injury is why Rose is so hesitant in playing while hurt -- to a fault, many would argue. The Chicago Bulls guard has taken heat for saying that he's got more than basketball on his mind.

"I think a lot of people don't understand that when I sit out, it's not because of this year," Rose said last month. "I'm thinking about long term. I'm thinking about after I'm done with basketball, having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to.

"I don't want to be in my meetings all sore or be at my son's graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past."

For Hill, Rose's sentiments were fair -- but maybe a little too honest.

"I think I agree with what he was saying there, but I don’t know if it translates, if he needed to say that," Hill says. "I don't fault him for being careful and being cautious, and I don't fault the team for being conservative.

"If he has an injury and it's two days to recover, why not take five days?"

The trick with Derrick Rose -- and for almost any professional athlete -- is that forces once working in unison are suddenly thrust in opposition of one another. When healthy, athletes' minds and bodies, along with coaches, teammates, and fans, all have the same goal: perform your best, push your hardest, and win.

Injuries create chaos. Players' mental states can overestimate their physical capabilities. Hill points out that pain is "an indication that something is wrong," but that players often don't want to recognize it as such.

Meanwhile, teammates, coaches and ownership want to win. So do fans, many of whom revere the athletes who sacrifice their bodies for a larger cause. And athletes don't want to let anyone down.

It's a dangerous cocktail.

"There were times where I played when my gut was telling me not to play," Hill says. "The regret is that I should have trusted my gut, and maybe some of this stuff would have been avoided.

"Even after everything I went through, I still struggled [to protect my physical health]. My last year in Phoenix, I had a torn meniscus, and I came back after two weeks. There’s no way I should have been doing that, but you just get caught up. It's hard to flip that switch."

Hill has stayed busy since retiring from the NBA two summers ago. He joined NBA TV as an analyst and commentator, and he serves as a committee member for the AllState NABC GoodWorks Team, which selects 10 college basketball players whose work in their communities stand in distinction among their peers. "One of the hardest things is trying to vote on the winners, because I think [the nominees are] all worthy," Hill says.

And while he sees the heat turned up on the former MVP right now, Hill believes the backlash is only a temporary concern.

"The beautiful thing is, fans are so passionate about their teams, if he can get healthy and stay healthy, people will forget," Hill says. "If he can get back or even get close, people will forget this particular moment in time."

"People have forgotten already what he did 3-4 years ago."

As Grant Hill knows, memory is just as fickle as the body. That's why Rose's ongoing return from his injuries has observers poking and prodding his identity. The diagnosis remains unclear. How we remember Derrick Rose's past will depend on what he does in the future.

-- Follow Jonathan Crowl on Twitter @jonathancrowl.

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