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Grant Hill on the Inauguration

There is a palpable sense of joy across the NBA about the inauguration of Barack Obama tomorrow. Travel plans are being changed, Tivo’s are being set and Ray Allen [1] is heading to Washington to take in the momentous occasion live and in person.

Perhaps no one in the NBA has a more interesting perspective than Phoenix’s Grant Hill [2] whose mother was roommates with one Hilary Clinton at Wellesley. But Hill was an Obama supporter from way back, donating money to his campaign as early as 2007. Like a lot of players, Hill would love to be in the District tomorrow, but his schedule won’t allow it. I caught up with Hill before the Celtics [3] game with the Suns and asked him about the day.

“It’s kind of hard to make sense of it,” Hill said. “Home for us is Florida, which is a fairly conservative state, and Obama carried Florida. Phoenix is (John) McCain country and people there are excited too. What he’s done, and how he’s done it has the country excited. There’s a feeling that there are some smart people in place. There’s a feeling of pride in the country and the whole political process. Hopefully that will inspire people to go out and work for change because the hard part starts now.”

There has been much made about Obama’s love of basketball. The analogy is an easy one to make–teamwork, sacrifice, a sense of being a part of something greater than the individual self–and it appeals to what people see in Obama and their hopes for his administration. It’s so easy to make that it’s already become a bit of a cliche, but I asked Hill about it anyway.

“I think he understands the importance of teamwork,” Hill said. “He picked smart people for his cabinet and he relies on them. They’ll challenge him. It certainly reflects the value of sport and athletics.”

With a grin, Hill added, “I hope he’ll be a better president than a basketball player, though.”