The Time: April 29, 2010
The Place: The Rose Garden, Portland, OR
The Deed: Grant Hill teaches a life lesson to cocky youngster Jerryd Bayless
There are some players that get under your skin because, aside from their varying personality disorders, are also extremely good at basketball. James Harden, Manu Ginobili and Russell Westbrook qualify for this category.
Some players are extremely obnoxious because that's how they earn a living in the first place. Guys like Matt Barnes and Bruce Bowen fit the bill here.
Then there is an additional tier of annoying twerps that are somehow even more annoying for the fact that they are just not that good at NBA basketball in the first place, yet somehow this does nothing to dissuade them from pretending to be superstars. The first player to come to mind here is Jerryd Bayless.
The University of Arizona product was selected 11th in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers and then dealt to the Portland Trail Blazers in a largely inconsequential trade involving a who's who of journeyman role players such as Jarrett Jack and Ike Diogu.
He was a combo guard that scored 20 PPG with the Wildcats, but aside from the occasional moderate scoring burst he has offered little value in the NBA and hence has already played for six teams in his seven seasons at the time of this article.
His limitations as a pro were already glaringly obvious during his sophomore season with the Blazers, but that didn't stop him from engaging in such grandstanding behavior as posing after making a three and screaming like a hyena after hitting a layup.
He was in rather dire need of a lesson in humility, and who better to deliver such a lesson than the three-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award, 37-year-old Grant Hill.
Following their improbable late-season climb up the standings that culminated in a third seed, the Phoenix Suns began the 2010 playoffs matched up with the sixth-seeded Blazers and a hobbled Brandon Roy.
The Blazers stole a win in a lackluster game one, which prompted the Suns to respond by delivering blowout victories in three of the next four games in the series, with Portland sneaking in another win in game four.
Tempers had flared on a few occasions, as often happens during any 7-game series. The Blazers had to stomach an embarrassing beatdown at home in game three as Jason Richardson went nuclear, dropping 42 points. There was an allegation that Amar'e Stoudemire intentionally bumped the injured shoulder of Nicolas Batum whilst adjusting his goggles (no, really), prompting Batum to give the Apostrophe the ol' Frenchman shove.
The Blazers were a young, sometimes immature team punctuated by the preening, posturing antics of Bayless, who thought himself an important enough player to stare down the Phoenix crowd whenever the possibility arose. The Suns, on the other hand, were a veteran team that had done this plenty of times before and obviously were looking to fry bigger fish than the Blazers.
So the stage was set for game six in Portland with the Blazers facing elimination.
The Blazers trailed the Suns 53-41 as the first half came to a close. The ball was swung to Bayless on the perimeter. Fellow NBA sophomore Goran Dragic executed what might have been the worst closeout of the season and Bayless easily dribbled past the Slovenian and saw nothing but wide-open lane.
One hard dribble and Jerryd took flight.
Grant Hill, always alert on defense, quickly helped off of LaMarcus Aldridge and met Bayless at the summit, swatting the feeble dunk attempt away with his left hand before uncharacteristically offering a few words to the brash youngun'.
(Note: To our newer Suns fans, that thing bringing the ball up the court following the block was called an "Earl Clark")
Bayless responded incredulously, although the block was as clean as they come. As he stood with his palms facing the sky, perhaps it wasn't the referees he was pleading his case to, but God himself, for delivering such a harsh smiting at the hands of His preferred smiter, Grant Hill.
Making matters worse, it wasn't even the first time in that series that Hill had murdered a Bayless shot attempt.
The Suns went on to win the game and the series, 99-90. Jason Richardson continued his torment of Portlandia, pumping in 28 clutch points on 16 shots. Roy and Aldridge combined to go 9/33 from the field. Bayless went 4/12, but learned a valuable lesson.
In a postgame interview with Eddie Johnson, Hill joked that Bayless was "trying to disrespect his elders" and added "I won the Sportsmanship Award [...], I think I said something to him, but the award is already mine so they can't take it back."
Phoenix misses you, Grant Hill.