Anfernee Deon "Penny" Hardaway (born July 18, 1971, in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American professional Basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA), specializing as a small forward and shooting guard. Injuries have plagued his career and reduced his effectiveness over a decade of NBA service. His most productive years came in his days as a member of the Orlando Magic as well as the early portion of his stint with the Phoenix Suns. He last played for the Miami Heat, who released him December 12, 2007.
Hardaway's nickname "Penny" came as a result of his grandmother's southern accent in calling him "Pretty." Hardaway was raised by his grandmother while his mother was away working. His first love was football but his grandmother did not want him to get hurt. He grew up in the Binghampton neighborhood of shotgun houses in Memphis, Tennessee. As a teenager despite his rising popularity, around the city and region and later in high school, the nation, Penny continued to work as a referee of youth sports at the Memphis YMCA and played on the Memphis Y.O.M.C.A. Jr. Olympic basketball teams as a youth.
High school careerEdit
Hardaway grew up playing basketball in Memphis for Treadwell High School, where he averaged 36.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 3.9 steals, and 2.8 blocks as a senior and was named Parade Magazine National High School player of the year. He finished his high school career with 3,039 points. Hardaway then committed to [Memphis State University (known as the University of Memphis since 1994).
Hardaway had to sit out the 1990-91 season due to being academically ineligible. He wound up making the Dean's List with a 3.4 grade point average as an Education Major. During his freshman season Hardaway was robbed at gunpoint and then struck by a stray bullet in the foot, putting his career in jeopardy.
In the summer of 1992 Hardaway was selected to the 1992 USA Basketball Developmental Team that scrimmaged daily against the 1992 Olympic Team. Penny was teammates with Chris Webber, Bobby Hurley, Jamal Mashburn, Rodney Rogers, Eric Montross, Grant Hill, and Allan Houston. Amazingly, the Developmental team defeated the Dream Team, led by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson, by a score of 62–54 in a 20-minute exhibition.
Hardaway returned for his Junior season (1992-93) and bettered his numbers from the previous season. He averaged 22.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 6.4 apg, 2.4 spg, and 1.2 bpg. He accumulated two triple doubles (then a rarity in college basketball). He was again named an All-American. He also was a finalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award that are annually given the most outstanding player in college basketball.
Penny majored in Education at Memphis State, achieved a 3.4 cumulative GPA, but passed up his senior season to enter the 1993 NBA Draft. In 1994, Memphis State retired #25, Penny's number while playing for the Tigers. Additionally, he was a leading vote getter on ESPN Conference USA Silver Anniversary Team.
Orlando Magic (1993-1999)Edit
Penny was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 1993 NBA Draft (third pick overall), but was traded along with three future first-round picks to the Orlando Magic for the rights to first overall pick Chris Webber. He started out the season at the shooting guard position while he learned the point guard position from veteran Scott Skiles. By mid-season he took over point guard duties from Skiles. He immediately made an impact on the league, winning the MVP award at the inaugural Schick Rookie Game. Hardaway helped the Magic to their first playoff berth and first fifty-win season. He averaged 16 points, 6.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds per game while his 190 steals ranked 6th in the league. He recorded his first career triple double on April 15 when he registered 14 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds against the Boston Celtics. For his efforts he was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team Rookie of the Year to the aforementioned Webber.
The 1994-95 NBA season saw Penny take his game to another level. The Magic won a franchise record 57 games while Penny averaged 20.9 points, 7.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. In fact he was the only player to average at least twenty points and five assists and shoot fifty percent on field goals during the regular season. He was named a starter in his first NBA All-Star game and was named All-NBA First Team. The highlight of the playoff run was the second-round defeat of the Chicago Bulls. Along with Shaquille O'Neal, he led his team to the NBA Finals in his second season, where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. Despite the sweep Hardaway averaged 24.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 8 assists, while shooting 50% from the field in the series.
An injury to star teammate Shaquille O'Neal at the start of the 1995-96 NBA season forced Hardaway to garner more of the scoring load during the first few months of the season. He responded by leading the Magic to a 17–5 start. He was named NBA Player of the Month for November by averaging 21.7 points, 6.5 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1 block per game. He was named a starter in the NBA All-Star Game for the second consecutive season while leading the Magic to a franchise record 60 wins. For the season he was named to the All-NBA First Team for the second consecutive year while averaging 21.7 points, 7.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds and capturing 166 steals which was good for 5th in the league. He also finished third in MVP voting. Hardaway was again the only player in the NBA who averaged at least twenty points and five assists and shot fifty percent on field goals during the regular season. The Magic's playoff run ended in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion (and all-time regular season victories record setter) Chicago Bulls. In the twelve-game playoff run Hardaway averaged 23.3 points, 6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds. He also notched a career high 42 points against the Denver Nuggets in a meager 3 quarters of action before fouling out.
During the summer of 1996, Hardaway played on the 1996 US Olympic Games Basketball Team, which won a gold medal. Penny averaged 9 points, 4.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in the eight games. His two biggest contributions were in the quarterfinal game against Brazil where he chipped in 14 points and in the Gold Medal game against Yugoslavia where he scored 17 points.
The departure of O'Neal during the off-season to the Los Angeles Lakers left Hardaway as the lone star on the Magic heading into the 1996-97 NBA season. Hardaway struggled through an injury filled season but still managed to be named a starter for the third consecutive time in the NBA All-Star game. During the season Hardaway, being the team leader, led a coup to fire then coach Brian Hill (basketball) with only 33 games left during the season, which damaged Hardaway's reputation in the league. In 59 regular-season games he averaged 20.5 points, 5.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game and was named to the All-NBA Third Team. The Magic managed to make the playoffs with a 47-win season. In the playoffs the Magic fell 0–2 to the Miami Heat in the first round. Hardaway then scored 42 points in game 3 and 41 in Game 4 to force a Game 5 in Miami (becoming the 1st player in NBA history to score 40 points in back to back playoff games when his team scores less than 100 while also being the first player to score 40 points back to back in the playoffs against a Pat Riley-coached team). Hardaway scored 33 points in Game 5 but the Magic fell short. Hardaway finished the playoffs with averages of 31 points, 6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. His playoff scoring average finished a close second to Michael Jordan (31.1).
A devastating left knee injury incurred early in the 1997-98 NBA season required surgery and forced him to miss the majority of the season. Despite injury, he was voted to start NBA All-Star Game for fourth straight year, and had six points and three assists in 12 minutes at New York. However, he was criticized for attempting a comeback sooner than expected by playing in the All-Star Game. He played his last game a week after the All-Star game and missed the remainder of the season (Hardaway has since endured another four surgeries on his left knee up to the present that have gradually deteriorated his explosive athletic abilities). In 19 games he averaged 16.4 points, 4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Hardaway returned during the lockout-shortened 1999 season and managed to play in all 50 regular-season games to lead the Orlando Magic to a share of the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists, and his 111 steals placed him 5th in the league. The Magic then lost a first-round series to the Philadelphia 76ers in which Hardaway averaged 19 points, 5.5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. It would prove to be his final season in Orlando.
In 369 regular season games with the Magic, Hardaway averaged 19 points, 6.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. In 45 playoff games he averaged 21.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 steals.
Phoenix Suns (1999-2004)Edit
Hardaway was dealt to Phoenix before the start of 1999-2000 NBA Season to team with fellow All-Star guard Jason Kidd to form what was called BackCourt 2000. On December 12, 2007, he was waived by the Miami Heat in order to free up a team spot for free agent Luke Jackson. In 16 regular season games, he averaged 3.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists & 1.19 steals. His best game of the season was on November 17, with 6-6 shooting for 16 points in a win over the New Jersey Nets 91-87 on the road.
On July 13 2008, Penny Hardaway participated in the 2008 Zo's Summer Groove Old School vs. New School charity Basketball game, that took place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. During the weekend he said that he wanted one more shot in the NBA, and said: "I don't like the way it ended (being released by the Heat in December of 2007), I have some good basketball left in me."
On August 21 2008, Penny Hardaway donated one million dollars to the University of Memphis. During the press conference Hardaway had this to say: “Today is a great day. It is a dream come true for me after growing up ten minutes from here and having a dream to make it to the NBA,” Hardaway said. “To be able to go here, go to college, Dr. (Thomas) Carpenter allowed me to have the opportunity to come here. To have a great career, to play with so many great teammates, have great fans and great coaches, and to be able to live out a dream and come back and do something like this for the school, it’s priceless for me. Little kids that grow up in neighborhoods where people tell you that you can’t do things, well a lot of people told me that I couldn’t do things and I didn’t listen to them. I kept my dreams high and my goals high and I accomplished a lot of things that a lot people didn’t think that I was going to be able to accomplish. So I’m so thankful for that and to be able to give back to the school and to the program is something that I’m so glad that I’m able to do.”
Regular Season Totals
Appearances on regular season leader boardEdit
- Top 10 Games Played: 1994, 1996, 1999
- Top 10 Minutes Played: 1994, 1999
- Top 10 Field Goals: 1996
- Top 10 Free Throws: 1996
- Top 10 Free Throws Attempted: 1996
- Top 15 Points: 1995, 1996
- Top 15 Assists: 1994, 1995, 1996
- Top 10 Steals: 1994, 1996, 1999
- Top 10 Player Efficiency Rating: 1996
Appearances on playoff leader boardEdit
- Top 10 Minutes Per Game: 1994(3rd), 1997(4th), 1999, 2000, 2004
- Top 5 Games Played: 1995
- Top 10 Field Goals: 1995, 1996
- Top 10 Free Throws Made: 1995, 1996
- Top 10 3PT Field Goals: 1995
- Top 10 Assists Per Game: 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2004
- Top 10 Points: 1995(5th), 1996
- Top 10 Points Per Game: 1996, 1997(2nd)
- Top 5 Steals: 1995, 1997(3rd), 1999(5th), 2003(4th)
Orlando Magic franchise rankingsEdit
- Games Played: 369 (8th)
- Minutes Played: 13,721 (4th)
- Field Goals Made: 2,542 (4th)
- Free Throws Made: 1,568 (4th)
- 3PT Field Goals: 366 (7th)
- Total Rebounds: 1,752 (7th)
- Total Assists: 2,343 (3rd)
- Total Steals: 718 (3rd)
- Total Points: 7,018 (4th)
- Points Per Game: 19.0 (4th)
Orlando Magic franchise playoff rankingsEdit
- Games Played: 45 (1st)
- Minutes Played: 1,842 (1st)
- Field Goals Made: 339 (2nd)
- Free Throws Made: 219 (1st)
- 3PT Field Goals: 82 (2nd)
- 3PT Percentage: .394 (1st)
- Total Rebounds: 205 (4th)
- Total Assists: 294 (1st)
- Total Steals: 86 (1st)
- Total Blocks: 33 (2nd)
- Total Points: 979 (1st)
- Points Per Game: 21.8 (3rd)
- Memphis High School Player of the Year (1989, 1990)
- First team All-American selection by the Basketball Times (1990)
- McDonald's All-American (1990)
- National High School Player of the Year (1990)
- Great Midwest Conference (Conference USA) Player of the Year (1992,1993)
- College All-American (1993)
- MVP of Rookie Challenge (Then called the Schick Rookie Game) (1994)
- All-NBA Rookie Team (1994)
- NBA Player of the Month (Nov 1995)
- NBA Finals (1995)
- Gold Medal - USA Men's Basketball (1996 Summer Olympics)
- All-NBA First Team (1995, '96)
- All-NBA Third Team (1997)
- NBA All-Star Team (1995, '96, '97, '98)
- Six career Triple-Doubles (5 Regular Season & 1 in Playoffs)
Legacy and playing styleEdit
Hardaway's style of play was rare in the early 1990s. Players of his height were encouraged to play closer to the basket and often were not ball handlers. He was a pass-first point guard who could score like a shooting guard. Hardaway was too big for most point guards to defend and too fast for shooting guards to defend. Hardaway was also an underrated defender who finished in the top six in steals on three occasions. Hardaway's versatility and size set him apart from many other players of his era. He was the only player during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons to average 20+ points 5+ assists and shoot above 50% on field goals. Early in his career Hardaway's flashy style of play was the closest thing the NBA had seen to Magic Johnson since his retirement. After the departure of Shaquille O'Neal in 1996 Hardaway's role changed to that of the primary scorer. Hardaway continued his role as a shooting guard in the early part of his stint with the Phoenix Suns. Later in his career injuries limited Hardaway's style to that of a versatile, smart role player who was a steady influence on younger players.
Hardaway's popularity reached its peak in the summer of 1996 as he was coming off two consecutive All-NBA first team selections and a selection to the USA Olympic Team. In addition he had the most popular basketball shoe on the market complete with the "Lil' Penny" commercial campaign for Nike, featuring a tiny puppet voiced by Chris Rock.
Many NBA players such as LeBron James, Gilbert Arenas, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Hakim Warrick, Trevor Ariza, and Antonio Burks have said that they idolized Hardaway when they were growing up. However, when Shaquille O'Neal was asked to make an assessment about the three prominent shooting guards he had played with, he made an analogy to The Godfather, comparing Dwyane Wade with Michael Corleone, Kobe Bryant with Sonny Corleone, and Penny Hardaway with Fredo Corleone, the weakest of the Corleone brothers.
Many of the shoes in Hardaway's signature shoe line, "Air Penny", have been reissued over the years as a testament to his popularity. The Nike Air Penny signature line includes the Air Penny I, Air Penny II, Air Penny III, Air Penny IV, as well as the Nike Air Foamposite that featured Penny's "1 cent" logo on the tongue and heel.
- Classic Lil Penny Nike Commercial
- Official Web Site
- Basketball-Reference Player Page
- Database Basketball Player Page
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