Penny Hardaway: Hot No More
by Jennifer Jordan
Penny Hardaway’s career with the Miami Heat came to an end on Wednesday morning when the team bid him so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, buh-bye. The reason for his departure was simple: the Heat wanted to sign Luke Jackson and they needed a spot on the roster. Penny Hardaway, 36 years old and plagued by injuries, seemed like the best candidate.
Before signing with Miami this season, Penny Hardaway went down the path of so many NBA players: a stellar career was cut short by injury. Prior to 2007, he was out of the NBA for the better part of three years.
Born on July 18, 1971 as Anfernee Deon Hardaway, Penny grew up in his birthplace, Memphis, Tennessee. A glimpse into his greatness occurred early on when, as a player for Treadwell High School, Penny averaged over 36 points and ten rebounds per game. During his high school career, he was named the National High School Player of the year by Parade Magazine and finished with over 3,000 points.
During his college days at Memphis State, Penny was named the Great Midwest Conference Player of the Year twice, an All-American and the Conference Newcomer of the Year. He was also selected for the 1992 USA Basketball Developmental Team, a team that scrimmaged, and beat, the 1992 Dream Team. He was nominated for, but did not get, the Naismith College Player of the Year and the John R. Wooden Award.
Penny Hardaway left college his senior year to turn pro (he did, however, return in 2003 to obtain his bachelor’s degree). In the 1993 NBA draft, he was taken third overall by the Golden State Warriors but quickly traded to the Orlando Magic for Chris Webber. He eventually became Orlando’s point guard and his style of play was quickly compared to that of the Magic Johnson.
Though he would go on to play for several other teams, it was his stint with the Orlando Magic that made him a star and cemented him forever in the history of basketball greats. It was during this time that he became a household name and, in the tradition of basketball legends, received his own shoe line.
Though his career was one that was somewhat subdued by injury, Penny Hardaway still possesses stats anyone can be proud of. These include nomination to the 1994 All-NBA Rookie team, a spot on the USA Men’s Basketball Team during the 1996 Summer Olympics, nomination to the All-NBA first team in 1995 and 1996, and the All-NBA Third Team in 1997. He was also an NBA All-star four years in a row, from 1995-1998.