granthillFormer NBA great Grant Hill is working as an analyst during March Madness, first during the semifinals and finals of the Big Ten Tournament this weekend and then for CBS and Turner Sports during the NCAA Tournament.

We had a chance to chat with Hill on Thursday for a Q&A that will run in Sunday’s print edition (and online), but one question and answer that probably won’t make the cut for print for space constraints still seemed interesting nonetheless.

We asked Hill — who battled serious ankle injuries for several years in the middle of his NBA career — what advice he would have for Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who has had many devastating injury problems of his own. Here’s what Hill had to say:

“The thing that I would say is, ‘Protect your mind.’ And what I mean by that is protect your mentality. I had three season-ending surgeries and missed an entire year. You get to a point where you feel like you’re the best player on the court, you have that mentality as an elite player. As you have numerous setbacks and surgeries, you start to lose confidence in your body’s ability to stay healthy, and I think then you start to lose some confidence in yourself.

“When you come back, you’re just happy to be back — and I was. I was happy to be back. I think I kind of settled a little bit. Instead of coming back to kick butt and take names, I just kind of came back like, ‘I’m just happy to be back.’ Now, some could say if I came back with the other mentality, I wouldn’t have lasted. You don’t last nine years playing after a bad ankle injury playing heavy minutes whether you come back to kick butt or not. But that’s a regret I have. Guard your mind. Understand who you are, understand your process and tune out the distractions and chatter. Get your head right. Either your body is going to heal and you’ll be able to resume your career, or it won’t. Assuming it does, you have to still try to come back and be as close to who you were before as possible.”

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