Hill recognized for sportsmanship

By Mike Monroe

HOUSTON — When Spurs guard George Hill was a young player in Indianapolis, he had a reputation as a bit of a hothead.

“As a kid, I had a bad attitude when things didn’t go my way,” he said. “I’ve learned how to manage that and control my attitude so I can be a positive role model for other young players.”

Hill’s ability to control his emotions on the court gained recognition from a panel of former players when he was named one of six finalists for the NBA Sportsmanship Award.

The panel — Rolando Blackman, Mark Jackson, John Crotty and Eddie Johnson — selected Hill to represent the Southwest Division.

The other finalsts are Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Charlotte’s D. J. Augustin, Chicago’s Luol Deng, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and New Jersey’s Deron Williams.

The annual award reflects the ideals of sportsmanship — ethical behavior, fair play and integrity — in amateur and professional basketball, a key focus of the NBA Cares program efforts. The winner will receive the Joe Dumars Trophy, named to recognize the former Pistons All-NBA guard who now serves as that team’s general manager.

Hill said he still gets angry on the court, but tries to channel his emotions in a positive direction.

“Everybody gets angry,” Hill said. “It’s the competitive nature that NBA players have. But at the same time I know how to control it and take it out on something else you’re doing, either defensively or attacking the basket.”

Hill has two technical fouls in his three NBA seasons. One was for a head-to-head confrontation with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. The other came in a preseason game last fall when he responded to a call by sprinting away from the play. With the league referees intent on establishing the “respect for the game” emphasis this season, he was whistled for a technical that later was rescinded.

“I’ve had two techs so far, but one got taken back,” he said. “I got one in preseason when I ran down the court, but I didn’t know I would get one for doing that. I didn’t understand that rule yet.”

Hill’s teammates were happy to see his exemplary on-court demeanor recognized.

“I’ve never really seen George get really upset, cursing or out of control,” said Manu Ginobili. “Not really. He’s very correct and in control.”

TIAGO’S TENSION: After spending extra time after recent practices trying to cure a flaw in his free-throw stroke, Spurs center Tiago Splitter got a chance to test the new technique when he entered Friday’s game to open the second quarter. The rookie from Brazil went to the foul line three times in just one minute and nine seconds early in the quarter, but missed four shots in a row — he was awarded a second attempt after a Rockets foul lane violation on one shot — before finally making two straight.

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