Retired NBA star and Hall of Famer Grant Hill joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss NIL’s future in the NCAA and how he’s taken values from the locker room to the boardroom.
– The NBA Finals continues tonight in Boston with the Celtics leading the Warriors two games to one, and the story continues to revolve around a former Duke star, Jayson Tatum, becoming one of the elite superstars Well, today I had the chance to speak with arguably the greatest Duke player of all time, Grant Hill, who won back-to-back titles at Duke in 1991 and 1992, a career in the NBA Hall of Fame over 19 years.
But after his retirement, he became a very successful businessman, co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks. He’s in the private equity business. He has a real estate company, just the name of a few of the things he does in a busy retirement, also a broadcaster with Turner Sports and CBS. I told him about his new autobiography and his business philosophy, but I started by asking him who will win this NBA Finals series.
GRANT HILL: I will say this. I don’t know who wins tonight, but whoever wins tonight will win the series.
– OK, let’s take this prediction. So let’s talk about the book “Game”, congratulations, released this week. I’m curious, after all these years, almost a decade since you retired, why now?
GRANT HILL: I was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. And when a moment like that happens, I think you naturally reflect. And that was the spark – building, getting ready for the Hall of Fame and then, like, wow, I got a lot of things I want to unpack, a lot I want to share. And for me, the last achievement, the last celebration for an athlete is to enter the Hall of Fame. And now let me talk and recap my career as an athlete and share some of those experiences, the ups and downs along the way.
– You have become one of the true former athletes who favor business. I think you and Magic Johnson were two people who kind of transformed the way athletes became investors, business people, not just putting their names on products and doing commercials . So you have a private equity firm. You have a real estate agency. You are the head of American men’s basketball, co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks. Can you describe your business philosophy a bit?
GRANT HILL: Well, a lot of what I’ve tried to do in business, mostly with my real estate company and also with our private equity, a lot of values and characteristics that you take from sports, you know, you apply in business and… you know, working with others, collective responsibility, managing success, managing failure, working… you know, discipline. All those things that I learned playing for Coach K and playing 19 years in the NBA, you know, I find myself falling back on.
It is a foundation. And a lot of it is about people. And you can have great talent. You can have great skill. But if you don’t know how to work with others, you won’t get the best results. And so applying in the locker room and taking those values and applying them in the boardroom – and that’s what I tried to do and I certainly succeeded in doing it. But it’s all about people, and you learn that in sport. You learn everything – you know, you learn sacrifice, discipline and hard work. But learning to coexist, work and thrive with other people is so important.
– Now, college basketball players are being forced to learn those lessons quickly because of their name, image, and likeness — interestingly, Duke hired Rachel Baker, a former Nike and the NBA, to manage the player journey in this regard. Did NIL help the game or hurt it? It seems to be leaning towards paying for the game, rather than guys being allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness.
GRANT HILL: Yeah, I’m not sure that’s it– that’s what we all thought it would be, and it’s a little, you know, worrisome. I am all for athletes benefiting from their name, image and likeness. But when it evolves into fee-for-service, I think that’s a whole different set of issues. I think, with the transfer portal, makes it very, very difficult right now, and it’s a different environment in the landscape.
So I’m a little scared. If you had…if we don’t have guardrails, then it could very easily become chargeable. And it really feels like right now there’s no guardrails, and it’s kind of like the wild Wild West out there for intercollegiate athletics – the athletes.
– You are part owner of the Atlanta Hawks. What do you think of the escalating — excuse me — you’re talking wild west, rapidly rising values of these teams, the Denver Broncos are going for $4.6 billion this week.
GRANT HILL: Yeah I like that. You know, I think it’s– you know, look, I mean, as a student of history, I learned that sports– you know, you go back to ancient civilizations, the ancient Greeks, you know, they were ending wars in the years of the Olympics. And they understood the power of sport and how it motivates and inspires. It speaks to people. It brings people together. And so this is only amplified nowadays. And look, we bought the Hawks in 2015 for $700 million, and we were recently valued at just under $2 billion.
I think sports, you know, as we’ve been through COVID, it’s been a distraction, a welcome distraction. It was something that was entertaining. I think we like it. We love it real time. I think advertisers know that. The networks know it. So it’s really part of who we are as a society and our relationship with sport. And you know, selfishly, I hope that number continues to grow. But I really mean it.
I think the amount of information, the way the sport is now global, especially the NBA, there are still opportunities to increase revenue. And so it’s exciting. It’s exciting to be on the business side of the sport and help our franchise build our infrastructure, develop an emotional connection with our audience and fanbase, and ultimately increase our valuation for investors and for our organization. .
– There’s no finer example of business in sports than two athletes this week officially named billionaires by “Forbes –” today, Tiger Woods, just days ago, LeBron James. What is your reaction when these two reached this historic milestone?
GRANT HILL: Well, I just think it’s a testament to how the sport has evolved not just in terms of the pitch, the course, or the pitch, but also off the pitch. And I think back to what I was saying earlier about how we perceive and applaud and celebrate athletes who are great and excel at what they do, these two guys have leveraged their success to the fullest and rightly so.
Tiger Woods, obviously, when he’s in contention in a tournament, the odds skyrocket. LeBron James has been the face of the NBA for over a decade. And so their value is reflected in their net worth. But it kind of shows you… you’re thinking Mean Joe Greene. You think of Pelé. You think of Michael Jordan. And the bar keeps rising. And I think we’ll see more Tiger Woods and more LeBron James in the years to come because sports, like I said, are so much a part of who we are. And there will always be the big up-and-coming athlete wearing that coat, much like those two have been for a long time.
– Great to have Grant Hill. The book “Game”, his autobiography, in bookstores right now.