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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 sending him into unofficial retirement.
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.
Hardaway despite his tall stature (6'7) Penny played point guard and quickly was being compared to Magic Johnson. He played 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. Hardaway then committed to Memphis State University which was changed to University of Memphis since 1994.
Penny was forced to sit out his freshman year due to academic ineligibility, he was later shot in the foot which really put his promising career in jeopardy. But Hardaway bounced back and in his sophomore season (1991-92) he led Memphis State with averages of 17.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.5 spg, and 1.3 bpg. He was named Great Midwest Conference Player of the Year as well as Conference Newcomer of the Year. He also led Memphis State to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
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 Great Midwest Conference Player of the year and 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. Penny returned to University of Memphis in May 2003 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in professional studies, 10 years after leaving school early to turn pro.
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 and was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year which went to 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 defending champion 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 27 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.
The Magic's playoff run ended in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual champion Chicago Bulls. In the twelve-game playoff run Hardaway averaged 23.3 points, 6 assists, and 4.7 rebounds.
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 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 the Summer of 1999, at the urging of Phoenix Suns' point guard Jason Kidd,Hardaway was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Danny Manning, Pat Garrity and two future first round-draft picks. 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.
Injuries to Hardaway's foot and Kidd's ankle allowed them to play just 45 games together (33–12 with both in lineup). In 60 games Hardaway averaged 16.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals with a 42–18 record. The Suns finished with a 53–29 record and a 5th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. The ankle injury to Kidd forced him to miss most of the first-round series against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Hardaway stepped up and recorded a 17-point, 13-assist, 12-rebound triple-double in a crucial Game 3 win. The Suns disposed of the Spurs in four games. The Conference Semi-Finals pitted Hardaway against his former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and the Lakers. The Suns fell short to the eventual champion Lakers in 5 games. Hardaway averaged 20.3 points, 5.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1 block per game during the nine playoff games.
Hardaway's career took a turn for the worse as a dreaded microfracture surgery on his left knee forced Hardaway to miss all but four games during the season. In those four games he averaged 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals.
Hardaway entered the 2001-02 NBA season healthy and managed to play in 80 regular-season games. Kidd had been dealt for new point guard Stephon Marbury. Kidd's pass-first style was switched with Marbury's shoot-first style which led to Hardaway and Marbury butting heads. Hardaway managed to average 19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.7 steals during the month of November. The team traded for guard Joe Johnson during the season which relegated Hardaway to the bench for the first time in his career. Despite this he averaged 12 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals during the regular season.
Hardaway entered the 2002-03 NBA season coming off the bench. Inconsistent play by young Joe Johnson allowed Hardaway to get back into the starting lineup early in the season. His steady veteran play was a key component to a team that had young stars such as Marbury, Amare Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion. Hardaway did miss 24 games with a hand injury in which the team went 10–14 in his absence. He returned in time to record a 10-point, 10-assist, 10-rebound triple-double on April 9 against the Dallas Mavericks. Hardaway finished the regular season averaging 10.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals. The Suns gave the eventual Champion San Antonio Spurs a scare in the first round before losing in six games. Hardaway averaged 12.7 points, 6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals in the series.
The 2003-04 NBA season saw Hardaway shuffle in and out of the Suns starting lineup. He was traded to the New York Knicks January 6, 2004 along with Marbury and Cezary Trybanski. He averaged 8.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 34 games for the Suns.
In 236 regular season games with the Suns he averaged 12.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. In 15 playoff games he averaged 17.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.8 steals.
New York Knicks
Hardaway spent most of 2004-05 NBA season fighting various injuries. He averaged 11.9 points, 2.6 assists, and 2.5 rebounds in an 11-game span during the middle part of the season. He finished the season averaging 7.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 37 games.
In 2005-2006 he only played 4 games and then was traded back to Orlando but later waived which was considered the end of his career. On August 9, 2007, Hardaway was signed by the Miami Heat for the veteran's minimum, reuniting him with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal. He wore jersey number 7, marking the first time in his pro career that he didn't wear number 1. 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.
<stats> Player=Anfernee Hardaway Sport=NBA </stats>