Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose warms up before an NBA preseason basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
by Jon Krawczynski
AP Basketball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Grant Hill’s playing career is over, but he’s still going one-on-one.
Hill spoke with a nervous excitement on the eve of his debut as co-host of the new incarnation of “NBA Inside Stuff.” After an eight-year hiatus, the show is returning to the air on Saturday at noon Eastern on NBA TV. Taking the position once held by Ahmad Rashad, Hill was nervous going into his first interview of an NBA star.
Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Garnett , center, shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers’ Anderson Varejao, left, of Brazil, and Earl Clark during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
The debut show on Saturday will feature a one-on-one between Hill and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett. The two look back on Garnett’s career, including an appearance Garnett did with Rashad on the show while he was a fresh-faced youngster with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I was really nervous beforehand,” Hill said in a phone interview. “I thought it went well. It was great to talk to Kevin. He opened up and I asked him questions that I wanted to know.”
The first of 30 episodes this season will also include and an emotional piece on Derrick Rose’s return from a knee injury that sidelined the Chicago Bulls star all of last season.
“To have two features with both of those guys, we’re jumping back in and we mean business having those guys on the show,” Hill said.
Hill grew up watching the first version of “Inside Stuff,” and he has appeared on the show as a player several times. One of the program’s calling cards was an irreverent tone established in large part by the jovial Rashad, and Hill said he wants to try to strike a similar chord this time around. Taking that approach, Hill said, helps put the players at ease and draw out some of the personality that fans don’t see in postgame interviews in the locker room.
“It’ll be fun, light-hearted,” Hill said. “I think you’ll see the personalities of guys. We want to bring all that back and we want to hopefully have a great relationship with the fans and audience and do our predecessors justice with how we do this show.”
The staples “Jam Session” and “Rewind” will return as well, giving the show a familiar structure that will resonate with fans from years past. And the “Inside Stuff” brand doesn’t just appeal to viewers. Many of the players in the league watched the show as youngsters, and Hill said that helps them gain unique access to them away from the court.
“We want them to see behind the scenes, get a chance to spend time with the guys at home, in their car, going to the bowling alley, going fishing, whatever it may be,” Hill said. “It’s more relaxed. It’s more fun. Because of the success of the show in the past and it is an NBA show, there’s a trust there. I think guys let us in and as a result we can let the fans in and they can see a side of guys that I’ve seen for the last 19 years as a teammate.”
Hill said once he got started with the Garnett interview, the butterflies subsided and it felt “very natural.” But he’s still getting used to being the one who asks the questions rather than the one who answers them.
“It is a little different,” Hill said. “You’re on the other side and asking the questions. I certainly have heard my fair share of questions, so that hopefully has helped prepare me for being on this side.”
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